HITS Daily Double
Just when I’d resigned myself to writing yet another column admonishing the Modern Rock format for its lack of commitment to new artists, Lenny appeared in my office with news of Lisa Worden’s new gig. “I have the biggest scoop in the world,” was his intro, which caught my attention even while I was searching online for a presale code to the upcoming Ian Anderson Presents: JETHRO TULL 50th Anniversary Tour. He told me that Lisa, my dear friend, was leaving KROQ to be the National Alternative Brand Manager for iHeart and VP of Programming for Alt 98.7 Los Angeles! This is a newly created position for the company, which gives Lisa oversight of 25 iHeart Alternative stations. To say this is a game-changer for the format AND for women in the music business is a vast understatement. Let’s acknowledge Lisa’s 22-year tenure at KROQ, where her loyalty to the station and to Kevin Weatherly was irrefutable. She, Kevin and now-departed APD Gene Sandbloom were radio’s strongest team, and the toughest to impress. The Tuesday afternoon call with the three of them on a speakerphone, informing you of your add at KROQ, was the single best call in the business. The power of KROQ is undeniable, and Lisa played a critical role in keeping the station’s brand at the forefront of the industry: She rightfully insisted that KROQ always deserved the seat at the head of the table and worked tirelessly on the station’s behalf—another vast understatement. Tom Poleman and his fellow executives have often spoken about the impact of iHeart Alternative on music, culture and lifestyle, yet, in my opinion, a large chunk of those stations have been responsible (irresponsible?) for thwarting the success of artists who would’ve (should’ve) had #1 songs at Modern Rock. When Lenny asks me why a song didn’t go Top 10/Top 5/#1 at the format, the answer is always the same: There were 8-10 iHeart guys who wouldn’t play it. This is a format without a consensus—there is never that point where a song is a big enough hit to warrant format-wide support. iHeart’s On the Verge platform ensures support on a national level, and their success rate of picking hits is unparalleled. It’s just one of the many national platforms the radio group has in its arsenal, plus an incredible roster of exceptionally talented programming superstars like John Allers, Mike Kaplan, Nerf, Aly Young and Dustin Matthews, among others. I am so excited to see what Lisa will do in her new role, although not nearly as excited as she is! Did I happen to mention what a game-changer this is for the format? This morning, Entercom proclaimed, “I’m back, bitch,” with the launch of TWO major market Modern Rock stations! ALT 92.3, New York’s New Alternative, flipped from AMP at 10:00 AM EST commencing with a playlist of 10,000 songs commercial-free. An hour later, ALT 103.7, DFW’s New Alternative launched in Dallas, also playing 10,000 songs commercial-free. I’ve heard Alice Merton, AJR, Bishop Briggs and The Lumineers’ “Angela,” among the currents being played. All hail Entercom’s David Field for his belief in the Modern Rock format! Will Boston be next? The other question that needs answering is who will be the PDs for NYC and Dallas? Also, who will replace Lisa at KROQ? Matt Smith occupied the chair when Lisa left to program WHFS for two years, but that was many years ago. Who is capable of stepping into the most coveted MD/APD gig in radio? Who among us hasn’t fantasized about having that job? DO YOU APPRECIATE HOW MUCH THE LANDSCAPE HAS CHANGED THIS WEEK? Seriously, last week we were being told by our bosses that our format doesn’t matter—our “hits” don’t stream like hip-hop and pop, our bands don’t cross over (Portugal. The Man and Imagine Dragons were ALWAYS pop bands, in their revisionist view), we are the bastard stepchildren of radio, etc. It’s a new ballgame today: Two of the biggest radio groups have made a big investment in the format’s future, while Cumulus has been expanding its Alternative footprint for the past few years. ALSO, SiriusXM has named Chris Muckley PD of XMU, which is my absolute favorite radio station. So much more will be revealed in the days ahead…
If it’s a blustery Monday in October, and Arcade Fire is playing at the United Center in Chicago, then I must be there. It’s been 13 years and a few weeks since my first Arcade Fire show at the Mercury Lounge in NYC. The occasion for the show was CMJ, but I had stopped going to the conference a few years prior after decades of perfect attendance. I was invited to see them by Mac and Laura from Merge Records because I had worked the Superchunk single “Hyper Enough” to Modern Rock radio, with some commercial success. Since that night in 2004, Arcade Fire has been my favorite band. Mac said I could work the record at radio, and I picked “Neighborhood #3 (Power Out)” as the first single. I’m pretty sure I didn’t charge him (don’t tell my bosses), since indie bands weren’t having much success at the format during that time—Linkin Park, Green Day, our then-management clients Hoobastank, Three Days Grace, U2 and Incubus were the bands that dominated the airwaves. Nevertheless, we persisted (as the saying goes), and I will always credit Live105 PD Sean Demery, along with Aaron Axelsen, plus staffers Miles Anzaldo and Derek Madden, for loving this band enough to make “Rebellion (Lies)” the station’s most-played song of that year. The signature song from Funeral, “Wake Up,” had little success as a radio single in real time. Rather, it became an “anthem” after its use in the trailer for Spike Jonze’s Where the Wild Things Are in 2009. The band’s biggest radio hits have been “Ready to Start” from The Suburbs (2011 Grammy winner for Album of the Year) and “Everything Now,” the title song from the band’s Columbia Records debut. I’ve worked at least 15 of their singles to radio and it’s always disheartening (heartbreaking, really) that Arcade Fire isn’t considered an “automatic” at the format. Radio matters. Failure to recognize bands that matter makes radio less vital. The new single “Creature Comfort” should get its due at radio because it’s fucking incredible, and, as WXRT MD John Farneda proclaimed to me at the show, one of the standout songs of the night. I joke with Brady Bedard that the radio guys are waiting for an engraved invitation before they play a record. Let me know to whom that invitation should be addressed, and I’ll send it out immediately. After Ted or I have a particularly frustrating conversation with a PD, we’ll walk into the other’s office and express how we should find a station to program. Boston would be an opportune market to make an impression, while I’ve always wanted to run a Modern Rock station in the Chapel Hill/Durham area. Programming my non-existent station is comparable to my friends who play in fantasy football leagues, except I use the Mediabase chart to determine my stats. Unlike sports fans, I can “game” the system a bit by choosing the right songs to work/bet on. if you’re absolutely, on-the-money, unequivocally RIGHT at least three timesper year, your career will prosper. Like I always tell you, if you’re absolutely, on-the-money, unequivocally RIGHT at least three times per year, your career will prosper. For the last few months, I’ve declared Alice Merton’s “No Roots” and AJR’s “Sober Up” to be the two singles by new artists that are smashes. The metrics are there: Shazam, streams and sales. “No Roots” is nearing Top 10 and “Sober Up” is touching Top 20, so yep, I’m right. I also told you that The Lumineers’ “Angela” was a fall song, and, sure enough, as temperatures dropped, call-out heated up. As of today, “Angela” is the #1 Greatest Gainer for the week, with a dozen bumps to Power. Ignore at your own peril…. Reading the tea leaves, I believe that Howard P. has a huge hit on his hands with Odesza’s “Line of Sight.” The group is currently playing multiple sold-out arena shows in every market. Ask yourself this: Would you rather have points on this record or the “radio” band that, even after months of airplay, can’t sell 300 tickets in your market? The new Bishop Briggs single, “Dream,” which was co-written by one of my best friends (Dan Wilson), showcases her otherworldly talent and will be an even bigger hit than “River.” Don’t doubt me.
By Karen Glauber “It’s alright if you love me/It’s alright if you don’t/I’m not afraid of you running away/Honey, I get the feeling you won’t.” Who wrote better first lines than Tom Petty? I remember being completely enthralled by “Breakdown” when I was 16, driving to school in my ’72 Impala. His vocal cadence on that song reminded me of Peter Sellers as Inspector Closeau in the Pink Panther movies—a blast to sing along with while high, skiing on ice and rocks in the Poconos. I quickly claimed “American Girl” as MY song when my friends and I first heard it; it was important to have “signature” songs at that age. My love of Tom Petty’s music never wavered, even at my most “indie.” As much as I hated arena shows, it was an unforgettable thrill to see two bands I was close to, The Del Fuegos and The Replacements, open shows for Petty. Nobody in my group was ever too indie or too punk to appreciate Tom Petty. Neil Young was the only other artist who was equally untouchable. “Even the Losers,” “The Waiting,” “Free Fallin’” and “Walls” helped me work through some dark times. I became familiar with “Walls” fairly recently, when The Lumineers were asked to perform it at last year’s MusiCares dinner honoring Petty, which I attended as the band’s guest. The highlight was the six-song set Petty performed, ending with “Running Down a Dream.” I’ve listened to his music nonstop since Oct. 2, and this is the lyric I can’t get out of my brain: “Out in the great wide open, a rebel without a clue.” RIP… Lesley James has been PD at WWCD in Columbus since 2010, after her first civilian guest-DJ shot in 2004. Last week, Lesley called her nearest and dearest to let them know that she was resigning as PD, due to reasons beyond her control, but would be retaining her afternoon airshift. Mase, formerly of WKZQ and current CD1025 staffer, will be taking on the PD gig soon. Lesley stepped into the seemingly impossible-to-fill shoes of Andyman following his untimely passing, and built the station upon his legacy to even greater heights, including sold-out shows in Columbus’s biggest venues, and having a series of A-list bands AND new talent performing in the “Big Room” for their loyal listeners. When Lesley jumped on a record, I trusted her research as a barometer of the song’s potential success in bigger markets: Her metrics on Tame Impala’s “Elephant” gave me the confidence to work the song at Modern Rock, where it reached Top 10. Whatever Lesley chooses to do next, wherever she chooses to go, she will be a star… While you PDs are complaining about the lack of “hits” currently available to you, you might want to consider these, which are truly bona fide: 1) Alice Merton’s “No Roots.” This song is a certifiable smash, generating Top 10 Shazam stats in every market within the first week of airplay. It’s currently #13 on the iTunes Alternative chart—consider this your gift of the year, because “No Roots” is only going to get bigger. Please call David Jacobs at Mom + Pop and thank him profusely. 2) AJR “Sober Up." Gotta hand it to Nerf on this one—this single has been Top 10 in sales, streams and Shazams since he added it. Now, Nerf is 250 spins in, and WRFF PD John Allers has such confidence in this record that I anticipate an iHeart chainwide reaction to happen very soon. Whatever preconceived notions you may or may not have about this band, abandon them now. The same can be said about 3) Post Malone “rockstar.” The #1 streaming song on the planet hasn’t had a radio format “claim” it yet. Every millennial knows this song—what’s the risk in giving it a shot? The song is called “rockstar,” and isn’t that just what you claim the format is missing?... Belated congrats to KNDD PD Leslie Scott on being selected as the inaugural “mentee” for the MIW-Nielsen Music Mentoring Program! This one-year mentorship matches Leslie with key mentors from both the MIW Radio Group and Nielsen Music. Leslie was selected from a field of 40 candidates. Go forth and kick ass, Leslie!
By Karen Glauber Win Butler (second from right) with SiriusXM’s Jeff Regan, Columbia's Brady Bedard and SiriusXM's Rob Cross Nan Fisher was the first one to tell me nearly two years ago that I would hit it off with Brady Bedard, newly anointed as Columbia’s VP, Alternative & Rock Promotion. “He’s a good kid,” she said, which, from her, constitutes high praise. I certainly don’t need to remind Nan that she once occupied the same position at Columbia—our friendship is too important to me—rarely mentioning the two weeks that “Butterfly” by Crazy Town was #1 because of her efforts. Sadly, 2001 was a bleak, scary time for many, many reasons, and the music played on Modern Rock radio was a reflection of that. Brady and I immediately bonded over our shared love of legendary Minneapolis radio station Rev105: I was at HITS, promoting records to Kevin Cole and Shawn Stewart. Brady was still a teen back then, and his taste was formed by the music he heard on the station. Didn’t most of us grow up with a local radio station that sparked our love of certain bands? For me, it was WSAN, a progressive AM station in Allentown, PA, and WNEW in NYC. Were it not for WSAN, my ongoing Todd Rundgren obsession wouldn’t have been realized. Brady is a student of ’80s indie rock, and, hallelujah, I’ve found the one person who isn’t completely bored by my firsthand account of that era. Once Arcade Fire signed to Columbia worldwide, Brady took command of my favorite band’s Modern Rock radio campaign, just as I had been for the previous four records. I like to believe that I’m still part of their inner circle, but it’s Brady who has been in the trenches. “Everything Now” is one of the band’s most successful radio hits, with the biggest radio chains supporting the song in a meaningful way. Unfortunately, the glaring lack of support from a certain radio consultant (whom I refer to as “the format killer”) kept “Everything Now” from its deserved place in the Modern Rock Top 10. The album debuted at #1! The song is a legitimate hit at most of the stations playing it! Following the band’s Madison Square Garden show, the N.Y. Daily News posted this lede: “Arcade Fire prove they’re still the world’s best band at MSG show.” It’s unfathomable that this band isn’t an “automatic” for the format. During one of our daily conversations a few months ago, after a particularly frustrating Tuesday, Brady was laughing when he repeated words I’d forgotten I’d said: “There’s no part of radio promotion that’s any fun. But radio is still, unequivocally, the number one way to expose artists. You sell more records through radio than any other means.” He was reading to me from Our Noise: The Story of Merge Records, specifically the chapter about Arcade Fire, written by John Cook, with Mac McCaughan and Laura Ballance, in 2009. Brady sent a photo (seen here) of him and Arcade Fire’s Win Butler, SiriusXM’s Jeff Regan and Rob Cross, taken after Win’s interview with Jenny Eliscu last Tuesday. That was fun to see. If Modern Rock embraces the next single, “Creature Comfort” en masse, that will be fun. A year ago today (in fact), Brady and my favorite new band Lo Moon released their first single, “Loveless.” This week, Alt Nation added the band’s follow-up, “This is It.” Of course this song should already be on dozens of Modern Rock stations—now THAT would be fun. Almost as fun as falling into a pair of tickets to see Springsteen on Broadway, in fact. So many “ifs” in this climate: IF ratings truly measured real audience. IF MScores measured anything empirical. IF programmers believed in the power of music discovery. IF there were more stories to tell this year about the power of the format, beyond Portugal the Man and, the soon-to-be-told story of Alice Merton. What if every conversation wasn’t an argument? IF, IF, IF… SONG TO HEAR: LCD Soundsystem, “Tonite”
By Karen Glauber Last month, after receiving an advance stream of the latest Arcade Fire album Everything Now, on the tenth listen through, I felt compelled to send Win Butler an email to convey my feelings. I’ve worked on the band’s behalf since the release of Funeral, their 2004 debut, so sending him an email wasn’t that unexpected: “Dear Win, I love it so. ‘We Don't Deserve Love’ kills me. Like I said when you first played it for me at Scott’s house, it reminds me of NYC in 1981, when the arrival of Ed Koch as mayor made housing for artists unaffordable and it all went underground. Disco was strictly ‘bridge and tunnel,’ but hip-hop had caught our attention—knowing all the words to ‘Rapper’s Delight’ was a college party trick, plus there was this incredible dance music coming out—Tom Tom Club, ESG, Bush Tetras, Material, Liquid Liquid, League of Gentleman (once a prog nerd…), etc. Protest songs with a killer beat. We’d go to Danceteria and the Peppermint Lounge to see our friends’ bands—R.E.M., Pylon, Mission of Burma, etc., always for free, and dance for hours after. We weren't cool by any definable standard. I went to Oberlin and spent my days at the college radio station. We took road trips to DC for college radio conventions and discovered the Go-Go/Thrash scene, where Trouble Funk and Minor Threat would share a stage. When The Clash played 17 shows at the Bond international Casino, we pushed our way to the front of the stage for the two shows we were able to wrangle our way into. We would’ve never been allowed to enter Studio 54 or the Palladium or Area. Nor would we have wanted to. Your record captures what it felt like to be broke in NYC, before Koch had completely transformed Times Square into Disneyland. It was such a formative time in my life. Kids need an escape even more today than we did then—the music you’re making now evokes that tension and heartfelt release. Here’s to its success! I hope to see you soon—my love to all. xxkg” Win’s response was brief and very kind, which added fuel to my ongoing thesis that dance music, played on real instruments, with culturally aware lyrics, has an important place in current music. LCD Soundsystem’s “Call the Police” harkens back to the “Fuck Art, Let’s Dance” sentiment we felt at the onset of the Reagan administration. KROQ adding “Nobody Speak” by DJ Shadow f/Run the Jewels this week, which Lazlo at KRBZ has already played 800 times, is an important step toward giving a musical voice to how fucked things are right now. This song has been out for a while, with early support from KCMP, Alt Nation and KQGO, among others, and hearing it on the radio is a welcome antidote… Beck’s new single, “Dear Life,” which arrived yesterday, has the chorus, “Dear life, I’m holding on”—a highly relatable sentiment… As long as there’s a faction of people self-ordained as the “Alt Right,” I refuse to refer to our radio format as Alternative. As long as I am reading articles like “Why the Far Right Wants to Be the New ‘Alternative’ Culture” in The New York Times, I will refer to the format as Modern Rock. Thank you… Rarely, timed around a solar eclipse, perhaps, a song comes out that is PURE MAGIC. All of the “metrics” we pray for are immediate: Shazams, streams, calls, sales, etc. If we’re lucky, we bear witness to one or two of those in our career. Alice Merton’s “No Roots,” released by our friends at Mom + Pop, is that record. Mark Hamilton at KNRK is the spin leader thus far, with nearly equal emphatic support from KGSR in Austin, Alt Nation and WFUZ in Wilkes-Barre. The ordered rollout of stations reminds me of Bishop Briggs’ “River” (which has already sold gold/nearing platinum), except I think the chart success for “No Roots” will be even faster. David Jacobs is leading the charge on this—such an exciting project!... Arkells’ “Knocking at the Door” has been #1 on the Canadian Modern Rock chart for the past 12 weeks. As they say up north, every record has a shot at going #1 in Canada, but it’s unheard of for a song to stay there for as long as this one has! “Knocking at the Door” is an unmitigated smash.
By Karen Glauber I was in Boulder last week for the Triple A Convention, which has been hosted by FMQB’s Jack Barton ever since The Gavin Report followed the path of Album Network and The Hard Report to the burial ground of obsolete trade magazines. I’ve been coming to this convention for 25 years, forging decades-long relationships and seeing a bunch of performances that still resonate with me. Sure, we thought we were so cool in 1995 when some of us skipped the panels to see the movie Kids. And I’ve done my part to support Boulder’s economy with my yearly blast through fashion haven Max, where I can try on Dries Van Noten to my heart’s content, while catching up with Max manager Holly Kabacoff, whose store is always my first stop. For other attendees, the dispensary closest to the hotel is the first visit on their itinerary. I’ve watched men of a certain age clap their hands in glee at the first sight of endless display cases filled with edibles in every size and shape, and countless strains guaranteed to produce the desired effect of the day. I’ve been one of the only sober people in the room for so many years that not even an edible shaped like a Prada bag could tempt me. Most of the shows take place at the 500-capacity Fox Theatre, a far smaller venue than most of the convention’s headliners usually play. Thursday night’s Spoon show was epic—one of my favorite sets I’ve ever seen them play, heightened by the fact that their single “Can I Sit Next to You” is on the cusp of becoming the band’s second #1 single from Hot Thoughts at Triple A. Earlier in the day, my favorite new band, Columbia’s Lo Moon, played the lunchtime slot, earning a standing ovation from the radio programmers and industry folks in attendance. Their album, slated for early 2018, should be acknowledged as this generation’s Avalon. Also, Wesley and Jeremiah from The Lumineers drove in from Denver to say thank you to the programmers who have supported the first three singles from Cleopatra. They were thrilled to hear that “Angela” is nearing Top 15 at Alternative, especially after I told them that only two other bands (Cage the Elephant and 21 Pilots) have had a third Top 20 single in the last three years. An abiding theme of this year’s convention was how to monetize and build on the defining characteristics of the Triple A format. Legendary panel moderator Norm Winer solicited input from the audience as to what those characteristics are, and the adjectives that filled the white board resembled the best online dating profile I’ve never read: “Passionate,” “music lovers,” “smart,” “community-minded,” “family,” “like-minded,” “inclusive,” etc. When I imagine moving out of L.A., I know that moving to a city with a station like KCMP in Minneapolis, WFUV in New York or WRLT in Nashville would give me a base from which to build friendships. The stations that make up the Triple A format understand how to create music-focused NTR events where it’s not just a collection of bands playing: WFUV’s dance party cruises, KGSR Austin’s Blues on the Green series, WXRT’s sponsorship of Taste of Chicago, etc. The Alternative format has become reliant on creating a “community” via social media, thereby missing the real-life connection that was once a cornerstone of the format. Do you want to attract a younger audience? Here are two suggestions: Pay attention to streaming data instead of MScores (empirical evidence vs. six meters in a Top 20 market determining the success of a song). Stop playing the same ’90s songs until they become wallpaper. Nirvana was the most important band of a generation, but that doesn’t mean I want to hear “Come As You Are” every 65 minutes… It appears that WBRU will be going off the air after a 29-year run as Providence’s source for Alternative Music. Perhaps it will reappear as an online station, but it’s unlikely that PD Wendell Clough will continue in his current role. The first WBRU show I ever attended was the station’s Birthday Bash in 1995 with new band Ben Folds Five. I predict that this will turn out to be just one of many changes in the Alternative format in the months ahead… SONG TO HEAR: Alice Merton, “No Roots”
By Karen Glauber April 1 was the anniversary of two milestones: My 27th anniversary at HITS (aka “the career cul-de-sac”) and my 25th sober birthday. From what I can remember, my first two years were spent either at my desk or hiding underneath it. Klonopin is what finally did me in—I was a trendsetter with a full-blown benzo addiction years before most rehabs had a clue how treat the detox and recovery. Rehab was certainly memorable, and an experience I choose to never repeat. Chris Whitley visited, clearly under the influence, and serenaded me with his guitar. R.E.M. sent flowers, as did many other work associates, until my room (which I shared with one of the American Gladiators, whose nose was blown out from coke) resembled a morgue. After 30 sleepless days and nights, I emerged, looking like a praying mantis and completely “shut down” from detoxing too quickly (I could put a cigarette out on my arm and not feel it). In the early months of recovery, I was resolutely unwilling to accept that there was a power greater than myself. Not that I thought that I was all that great, mind you, but I’m a wee bit Type A (which sobriety has yet to quell). Someone suggested using gravity as my higher power, which seemed too obtuse for my very literal mind to wrap my head around. Instead, I chose Patti Smith as the embodiment of true grace, strength, talent and female power. Horses was my 12x12 and, later, Just Kids became my bible. Since Patti’s “comeback” after the death of her husband, I haven’t missed an L.A. show. This is my version of church, and her 4/5 show at the Teragram Ballroom was no exception. I’m grateful for my job, my sobriety, my kid, and for the opportunity to break new artists, regardless of how difficult you radio programmers make it for us… FACTS DON’T LIE (unless you’re the President): Spoon’s latest single, “Hot Thoughts,” hit 5 million streams on Spotify April 6. This far exceeds the streaming numbers for most every other song you’re playing, like Dreamers and Andrew McMahon, for example. I know that your playlist is almost wholly made up of bands playing your radio show, but there has to be an exception made for artists like Spoon! Taking the macro view: Why should bands that can command a significant payday at festivals be penalized because their summer touring plans don’t coincide with your radio show? Why not make the commitment now and reap the benefit of the band’s ability to sell tickets for your Xmas show? I’ve been told multiple times in the past few weeks that my priorities and your priorities are not the same, to which I answer that our priorities are, in fact, identical, if keeping our jobs remains high on both of our lists. Or, as 27 years at HITS might suggest, it’s in my best interest to do right by your radio station and the artists on whose behalf I toil… I invited 98.7 PD Mike Kaplan to a show, but I wouldn’t tell him where we were going or whom we were going to see. On the rare nights when I’m not wrestling my son to do his homework, I would much rather watch Vanderpump Rules and order Postmates than go out and see bands. At SXSW or Coachella, I’ll willingly stay out until the last note, but not so much on a school night. Knowing this, Mike agreed to this “blind date,” although his best efforts at advance detective work revealed nothing. After dinner, we arrived at the Echoplex and I introduced him to an artist named Dario and his manager Jesse. The venue was packed with an attractive crowd of music savvy early adopters, dance kids and twenty-something males. Yeah, I was old enough to be their mom, but I was the one hugging Dario (oh, is he gorgeous!) and not them. Way past my bedtime, he introduced himself as Youngr and proceeded to play a succession of instruments: Keyboards, guitar, bass, drums, plus triggered samples, with his brother and another bandmember on stage filling out the parts. The soon-to-be hit “Out of My System” was the crowd-pleaser (it’s at 24mil Spotify streams, fwiw), and 98.7 and KKDO both added the record this week. Dario’s father, btw, is Kid Creole and the Coconuts founder August Darnell. “Cherchez la Femme,” darlings…
Caroline and Arts & Crafts—the Toronto-based independent artist services company—just announced a U.S. distribution partnership for Arts & Crafts Records, which will continue to be distributed in Canada by Universal Music Canada.“We are extremely proud of our renewed partnership with Arts & Crafts," Caroline/Harvest Records General Manager Piero Giramonti said at lightning speed in between his daily fifth and sixth espresso shots. "They have consistently been the preeminent independent Canadian label, exhibiting impeccable taste throughout their history, with an unwavering commitment to artistry of the highest order. We are also psyched to begin our renewed relationship with the release of the new Broken Social Scene album, a set from the label's cornerstone artist (pictured)."FYI, since its launch in 2002, A&C has gone on to release north of 130 albums from more than 70 artists, earning 24 Juno Awards and 10 Polaris Music Prize shortlist nominations.
Or, as I call it, just another day in the music business. In honor of yesterday’s “protest,” I asked my female coworkers to wear red (it hadn’t occurred to any of us to take the day off) and join me for lunch (paid for by the bosses) in the HITS conference room. Some of the women gathered hadn’t been born when I started at HITS nearly 27 years ago. THIS is what the “career cul-de-sac” looks like, ladies. I’m big on five-year plans, even if I’ve never had one for myself. I asked my colleagues to set short-term and long-range goals for themselves. I’m my own harshest critic, but even I would follow the advice I offered, which included: (1) BE THE MENTOR YOU WISH YOU HAD: I “came up” in the business without female (or male) guidance—I flailed until I figured it out. Women in the music business (and elsewhere) are frequently made to feel disrespected, demeaned and excluded by their colleagues, and it’s important for them to know that we have their back(s). (2) IF YOU WANT TO HAVE CHILDREN, DO IT: Many women’s careers are penalized once they become mothers. While there’s never a perfect balance between career and parenthood, do not let anyone talk you out of it. I had my son at 47 (I certainly don’t recommend waiting that long), and where there’s the proverbial way, you can figure it out. Or, as Lenny advised me during one of our many conversations about whether or not I could do both, “There are stupider people than you who have both a career and a child.” (3) MANAGE UP: This advice was courtesy of my coworker Michelle Santosuosso, along with the equally sage counsel of “Don’t shit where you eat” (self-explanatory)… On Monday, I’ll be heading to Austin for my 31st SXSW. I was among the few hundred who attended the first one, and, at this rate, they’ll have to pry my cold, dead body away from the last one. My favorite band Spoon will be headlining SXSW’s first-ever residency, with three consecutive nights at the old Emo’s. I’ll be there for each of those nights; 1am set time be damned. Their new album Hot Thoughts will be out on March 17, hence the added fanfare of the band being in their city of origin for release date… Every year, a band emerges from SXSW as the clear “buzz band,” such as Wolf Alice, The Lumineers, Franz Ferdinand, Arctic Monkeys, Veruca Salt, The Strumbellas, Aurora, Jack Garratt, Broken Bells and Hozier, to name a few. This year, without question, Sundara Karma will be the band cited as everybody’s new favorite. Where they go, there I’ll be… My other SXSW must-sees include Lo Moon (oh, swoon), Youngr, Zipper Club, In the Valley Below, Bishop Briggs and, of course, the Big Star “3” performance… I rarely travel in the Alternative Radio wolf pack in Austin. It isn’t personal—I just prefer to follow my own itinerary. OK, yes, it’s personal. Although, after granting Columbia’s Brady Bedard “plus one” status at last year’s Iggy Pop/QOTSA show, he’s now welcome to tag along. He’ll be celebrating Rag’N’Bone Man’s ascension to #1 at Alternative with “Human,” and I’ll be there to remind him that he’s #1 because Ted and I “let” The Lumineers drop to #2. His Dreamcar single, “Kill for Candy” was Most Added this week. Maybe they’ll be the most successful band to lose a lead singer since Joy Division morphed into New Order (I refuse to acknowledge that Genesis existed once Peter Gabriel departed)… I absolutely love “Green Light,” the new Lorde single. I hope radio stops overthinking whether or not it’s “Alternative” and let the song reach its rightful place at #1. I’m the (self-appointed) arbiter of whether or not a song is right for the format, and I declare it so…. Please find me in Austin. I’ll definitely show up for the panel I’m moderating on Thursday at 2pm. This will be my umpteenth annual songwriters panel/performance, with a stellar lineup that includes Britt Daniel from Spoon, Mac McCaughan from Superchunk/Merge Records, Matthew Caws from Nada Surf, Chris Stamey from The dB’s/Big Star 3, Mike Mills from R.E.M. and an array of surprise guests. Despite the moderator, it’s always a SXSW highlight for those who attend. Say hi: Karen.Glauber@hitsmagazine.com
By Karen Glauber Spoon Thirty years ago today, on the occasion of my twin sister’s wedding (to a current editor of Billboard, I might add), my father had a heart attack and dropped dead. The wedding ceremony/luncheon was held at a stately penthouse ballroom on the Columbia University campus, complete with a wraparound view of upper NYC and the Hudson River. This mostly family gathering was to be followed by a “friends” reception at Maxwell’s in Hoboken, where Yo La Tengo, Antietam, Great Plains and Salem 66 were scheduled to play. My father was 55 (my current age) and I was 25. I had just moved to L.A., lured by the promise of being able to sign Robyn Hitchcock, to replace my departing boss Mark Williams (currently President of A&R at Columbia Records) at A&M Records. My father and I didn’t know each other very well, but he loved that I worked for Herb Alpert and that I was in “showbiz” (which meant he had to occasionally supplement my $400/week salary). The opening lyric to The Lumineers’ “Cleopatra” sums up how one unexpected incident can change the course of your life: “I was Cleopatra, I was young and an actress/When you knelt by my mattress, and asked for my hand/But I was sad you asked it, as I laid in a black dress/With my father in a casket, I had no plans.” In my father’s honor, there’s a yarhzeit candle flickering in my peripheral vision, and I’ve been listening to Whipped Cream & Other Delights on Spotify… I’m too Type-A to wax poetic about what “might have been.” Besides, that would mean I’d have to take my steely-eyed focus away from RealTime Mediabase, which will be my constant companion (or nemesis) until Saturday night. Will “Cleopatra” unseat Green Day’s “Still Breathing” at #1, making them one of very few artists (and certainly the only indie-label artist, at least in the Mediabase era) to have the first two singles from each of their debut and sophomore albums reach #1? [Ed note: "Cleopatra" has indeed hit #1 since this column was written.] Ted and I are still incredulous that there are six stations that WON’T play this record. It’s what keeps me awake at night (plus well-placed fear of the impending apocalypse)—when empirical evidence AND my best efforts still prove futile. In the throes of insomnia, my favorite lyric from “Cleopatra” plays on repeat in my head: “But I was late for this, late for that, late for the love of my life/And when I die alone, when I die alone, when I die I’ll be on time.” I’ve always expressed myself through the lyrics of others—somewhere in the attic is an AP English paper that used the lyrics to Billy Joel’s “Vienna” to make my thesis… While Mike DePippa and I were going through Republic and Island’s most recent and upcoming releases, he remarked that with the label group’s roster, which includes Lorde, Bishop Briggs, Phantogram, Marian Hill, Grace Mitchell, Florence + the Machine and Misterwives, “The Future Is Female” should be emblazoned on every piece of label merch. I’m sure at least a few of our radio friends (thankfully) would be proud to wear a T-shirt with that sentiment. Mike and Amanda had a spectacular first week with Incubus’ “Nimble Bastard” and continue to find believers for Mondo Cozmo’s “Shine” (which I’ll finally get to hear live during next week’s L.A. show)… These are the songs I believe, with every fiber of my being, will be massive hits: Sundara Karma, “She Said”; The xx, “On Hold”; Spoon, “Hot Thoughts”; Lo Moon, “Loveless”; The Strumbellas, “Young & Wild”; and Cold War Kids, “Love Is Mystical.” The hit potential of these songs won’t necessarily be realized after 150 spins (75% in the overnights), so stay the course… I’ve been obsessed for months with Youngr’s “Out of My System,” which will soon be released on Island. For the uninitiated, Youngr is U.K. artist Dario Darnell, whose father, August Darnell, fronted Kid Creole and the Coconuts. Youngr reminds me of Robert DeLong and Jack Garratt with his one-man-band approach (although his SXSW performances will include his brother). The music and performance both feel very modern to me—I’m excited for you to hear/see it. Let’s hang out at SXSW: karen.glauber@hitsmagazine.com
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