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Columns > Mike Gruenberg - In My Life

Published: 2007/03/21
by Mike Gruenberg

Rants & Raves

In My Life
I am often amused and somewhat bewildered by the current state of the music business in relation to the presentation of quality product at reasonable prices. With the preponderance of truly talented artists and the ability to hear their music on a variety of medias, why havent the record companies made it easier and less expensive to collect music? I applaud Steve Jobs at Apple for taking steps to make the purchase of music more reasonable with incredible ease through the Apple iPods. Were it not for this isolated example of fiscal sanity, I doubt that the four major companies (Universal, Sony BMG, Warner and EMI) who control 70% of the worlds music distribution would have taken it upon themselves to review their pricing polices. Here are some examples of prices and policies that cause me to wonder:
Beatles Love Album
The two surviving members of the band, Paul and Ringo recently agreed with Johns widow Yoko and Georges widow Dhani to re-release the Beatles catalog for use by Cirque de Soleil. Thats good news because at the very least its nice to see the four parties could finally agree to something with the result seemingly of benefit to the music buying public. The music is to be used at Cirques Las Vegas Theater and all the selected tunes would be remixed and produced by Giles Martin, the son of long-time Beatles producer George Martin. Very cool indeed, so I immediately went out and bought the album. The album boasts 26 Beatles tunes plus a DVD. The music remixed by Giles couldnt be better! Music and Motion I thought, but wait! Reading the back cover of the album, it states DVD DISC FEATURES AUDIO CONTENT ONLY AND PLAYS ON ALL DVD PLAYERS. List price for the album is over $25 which is considerably more than most CDs. It would appear that the rationale for this price differential seemed to be the inclusion of the DVD although it has no video, just music. To me, a DVD (Digital Video Disc) by virtue of the name implies video which implies motion. I was truly disappointed when I realized that the DVD included was just a rehash of the music on the CD. No videos, no pictures, just music and the Beatles Cirque logo on the screen. If the original intent of the Beatles music licensing team was remixing the music, then that was a great idea. But if that concept got sidetracked to include a useless DVD for the sole purpose of making more money, then I am disappointed. Given all the years of Beatles fans buying the same music over and over and over again in different packaging schemes, it seems to me that the people (Paul, Ringo, Yoko and Dhani) who control that music and have the right to release whatever tunes they want, might want to consider that record buyers have many choices . Yes, the Beatles catalogue now modernized is a great marketing idea. Why not give a little back to the loyal fans and charge a. little less and add some relevant content. Maybe some never-before-seen photos or concert footage or pictures from the bands summer vacations could be included with the CD for a reduced price as a thank you to all the fans who have supported the band these many years.
Rave for the music
Rant for the unacceptable price for the package that includes a DVD that lends nothing to the album

Wrinkled Rockers Back on Tour
I was truly pleased to see the Police reunited at the Grammys. Great bands that drift apart should come together just to remind us of the magic that occurs when a truly gifted band can reassemble and get back on stage. It was also great to see that Bob Seger was out on the road again last year. Now, it looks like Phil Collins along with Tony Banks and Mike Rutherford will tour in 2007 as Genesis although without Peter Gabriel. Add to this the successful 06 tours of the Rolling Stones, Paul McCartney, The Who, Eagles and Springsteen and its a veritable reunion of the 60s rockers. All of whom will undoubtedly go out on the road again this year thus giving the children of the baby boomer generation another taste of what mom and dad keep raving about. More to the point of ticket price reality, in a story that appeared in USA Today, both the Police and Genesis have set their ticket prices at $50 & $75. Thank you for having that consideration for your fans. Hopefully more artists, both current and those whose glory days were from another era will follow suit and keep ticket prices at a more affordable level.
I was a bit surprised and taken aback when I recently opened my e-mail and got a note from American Express stating that Genesis tickets for performances in September in Washington, D.C. were now available for sale. There were no tickets at the rate quoted in the newspaper article. What happened to the $50. & $75 prices as stated in newspapers last week? *Rave for the music. Rave for the ticket prices supposedly set by the Police and Genesis. Expect to have Phil Collins, Pete Townshend and/or Bob Seger adorn a future cover of an AARP magazine proving there is still a lot of life still left in our older rock heroes. * *Rant for not having Peter Gabriel as part of the Genesis tour. Cmon guys, if Paul and Ringo can come to an agreement with Yoko and Dhani, then anything is possible. And Rant for the reality that seems to have superseded the good intentions of keeping Genesis ticket prices in a realistic zone. *
Atlantic Records Follow-Up
Ahmet Ertegun once said As far as were concerned from the moment we sign an artist, theyre already a star. That statement came to life for me when I realized how many artists found success from the label Mr. Ertegun co-founded. Between their jazz, r&b, mainstream rock and other assorted music categories, Atlantic stands as a beacon of quality, depth and success that few labels have come close to matching. I recently purchased an album entitled 75 Soul Classics from The Atlantic Vaults Atlantic Gold. It is a 3 disc set of virtually every R&B hit produced by the label. Aretha, Ben E. King, Otis Redding, Booker T & The MGs, Ray Charles, The Drifters and many more are contained on this offering. The sound quality is superb and the liner notes are relevant. The only drawback is that this album is an import from the U.K. and as such, may be difficult to find in the U.S. or other countries.
Rave for the album *Rant for albums that are only released in certain countries. Why cant an album be released simultaneously in all countries at the same price? *

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