HITS Daily Double
Clear your heads and your hearts and let's start getting the business of music back on track in the new year. It's not going away—it's changing.


Lenny Can’t Wait for This Year to Be Over
This work year is coming to a close. Most everyone will be packing up and finishing up by the middle of next week, and I just thought there should be some final observations—a way to throw this year into the accounting black hole and make it disappear forever.... So here it goes:

1. Radio has gotten too tight, is abandoning new music, is afraid of the effects from the new People Meter ratings and is still reeling from the Spitzer payola investigations. As a result, more and more fans are abandoning radio, so that the valuations of the chains and shares of their stocks are dropping like WMG. People who are still devouring new music are finding other avenues. Will they ever come back? Will radio programmers, consultants, etc. get over themselves and their callout research hoo-ha, just relax and have some fun. I can't help but hope so. I’ve always loved the radio; it’s been my friend as far back as I can remember. We'll see.

2. The digital revolution needs to move forward in warp speed. Record stores are becoming a thing of the past (except for Amoeba in my neighborhood), but browsing for music on iTunes is way fun, and if competitors can figure out a way to give us an ease of operation and similarly upbeat environment to discover and buy music, then others will succeed as well. Bring it on, I say. Keep bringing it on.

3. I'm still happy and sad about this year's Grammy noms. Happy for the great new music from Amy Winehouse, Feist and Taylor Swift that was recognized with nominations, yet at the same time flabbergasted that Bruce Springsteen's magical Magic didn’t get picked for Album of the Year. Hooey, hooey, hooey. Someone on the blue ribbon oversight nominating panel needs a spanking for not including the year's best album. Now, that would be funny, and fun.

4. And speaking of fun, for all of you who are as overwhelmed as I am about the recent theatrical onslaught of bleak, bleaker and bleakest movies, I highly recommend the unique and delightful Juno and its clearly genius soundtrack as the anti-bleak counter-programming film and music companion of the year. I dare anyone to see this and not have some damned good fun.

5. And finally, I wish you all a happy holiday break. Clear your heads and your hearts and let's start getting the business of music back on track in the new year. It's not going away—it's changing. Things change. It's the reality of life. And maybe when the ship is righted, it will be fun again, hopefully more fun than ever. A guy can dream, right?

Tell us your year-end thoughts. Tell us what you hope for in the new year. Hit us up at [email protected].

I absolutely cannot listen to any form of commercial radio anymore. Radio sucked badly enough when I was in it (and I’m sure I contributed significantly to the suckiness), but today’s model is simply abysmal. Between iTunes, the Internet, podcasting and satellite radio...any form of programming you’d want is better, more entertaining, and more easily accessed. Commercial radio is another industry that must now completely re-invent itself out of obsolescence. My New Year’s wish is for the Sirius/XM merger to finally go through, and for Clear Channel to sell all of their stations at a loss, back into the hands of broadcasters. Many readers may not be old enough to recall that there was a time when radio was live, local and compelling. What a concept.

As for the music business... Everybody’s been searching for the answer for the last 10 years, and it doesn’t appear that anyone’s any closer to any answers. Great music always seems to find its way through, whatever the channels may be at the time. Whether it’s Feist breaking through in an iPod commercial (how ironic is that?) or Colbie breaking from a well-orchestrated MySpace campaign, the cream always rises. It seems to me that we’ve been suffering from a severe lack of cream…

In the meantime I’m happily making some lovely Pinot Noir here in Oregon. The only thing I miss is Lenny Beer.

Scott (Shadow Stevens/Shadow Steele, etc.) Wright

This has been an incredible year for me personally, as I am at the tail end of my 365 Songs in 2007 project, and I'm looking forward to playing live as much as I can in 2008.

The future perhaps: Labels should become live concert entities. Labels and bands will concentrate on tour support, and the first label to open venues and nightclubs as part of their business model in selective cities will succeed. This is the future. Label-owned venues, PROPER tour support, health care and treating the artists with the respect they deserve will yield great results. This can succeed, because we all know there is nothing like a killer live show. I can see people getting sick of DJs, MySpace, Guitar Hero and yearning for something real. I've already crossed that threshold myself! Of course, this will force competition on existing venues, but could make the overall scene a better place for everyone.

[email protected]

Hi Lenny,
You hit exactly on the target. Yes indeed, the ship needs to change course, but we must have competent captains calling out the directions, or we will continue to collectively hit every iceberg in the ocean.
I would suggest that all of us in the music business reflect on what it was that initially got us excited about music in the first place, and get in touch with that feeling. We need to find our collective muse, and ignite that passion, inspiration and raison d’etre, moving forward into a much brighter future.
I would be remiss not to mention that so many of us are now out of work in an industry seemingly devoid of hope. As hope springs eternal, I find solace in the fact there is always something new, fresh and exciting just around the bend to keep our dreams alive.
Best Holiday Wishes,
Guy Eckstine