Posts Tagged ‘Hollywood’


August 18, 2013

In Saturday’s Lefsetz Letter, Bob talks about how the music business’ analytics are still using unit sales (CD’s), airplay, and a little paid downloads to measure success…or failure as these numbers continue to plummet.  Whereas music streaming is on the  rise through services like Spotify, MOG, and YouTube. Things are changing and we aren’t leading that change.

Bob’s letter reminded me of a book I recently read that he coincidentally recommended. SLEEPLESS IN HOLLYWOOD: Tales from the NEW ABNORMAL in the Movie Business, is a new book by film and now television producer Lynda Obst.  You may remember Lynda’s first book, Hello, He Lied and others tales from the Hollywood TrenchesThis one is even better!

Why do I think “Sleepless” (a name Obst took from the hit movie she produced, Sleepless In Seattle) is a step above Lynda’s previous work?  You can take her lessons about movies and TV and apply them to the music business.

“Sleepless” starts out with Obst examining the changes in the movie business and how she had to first learn the new rules and then adapt to survive.

The book gives you a step-by-step of how the movie business moved their profit centers from DVD sales (which dried up) to making movies geared for an international audience. No more American humor (although there are exceptions of those that can cross over like Brides Maids) and “chick flicks” (which is Obst’s specialty), now there needed to be a “preawareness”…a hit book (Harry Potter or Hunger Games), a remake (Karate Kid, Les Mis), or movies based on comic book superheroes (Batman, Ironman, The Justice League).

With less material to pick from, there was what Obst call “The Great Contraction” in movies. Fewer movies being made meant more people out of work.  The catalyst for this change was the writer’s strike of 2007-2008.

The writers were fighting for more.  They felt burned by their last contract with the studios because DVD sales were where the profits were and the writers felt they weren’t being compensated fairly for their contributions.  They saw the Internet and new technology as the new DVD’s and fought to get a bigger piece of something that really didn’t exist yet.

The strike lasted much longer than it should have.  The studios ended up making a deal with the Director’s Guild first, which took any leverage the writers had away.  In the end, everyone just wanted the strike to be over…especially those that worked (a majority of union members who voted to strike weren’t “working writers”).

With fewer movies being made, many great writers, producers and directors moved over to television.  This is why we have such amazing shows today (The Newsroom, Madmen, Modern Family, etc.).  So how do we use Lynda’s book and the examples she gives to change our business and survive?

Let’s start by going back to how we measure success with recorded music.  We are now in a singles business, so why make an album’s worth of material…for the publishing?  Why are we still making CD’s instead of leading music fans towards streaming?  Why are we still catering to traditional radio when there are so many other ways to introduce music to an audience?  If we’re fighting for “broadcast time”, why would we make it so hard for TV, movies, video games, and now online content to use our music?  Is there any better way to promote it…other than going on the road?

Were Napster and other file sharing sites downfall the start to our own writers strike?  If yes, what can we do to move our business forward?  Here are 5 suggestions to get started…please share yours too.

1)   Stop making CD’s even if it is currently a profit center…or just make them for collectors like we are with vinyl.

2)   Embrace and monetize streaming sites.

3)   Make it easy for fans to discover your new (or old) music by partnering with TV shows, movies and other content providers to increase broadcast time.  Also share new music with fans for free so they know what they are getting.  That can be as simple as streaming a new single or two on an artist or label website for as little as 24-hours.

4)   Stop looking at North America as the be-all end-all and start working harder on developing an international audience.  It isn’t just movies that are seeing profits from overseas.  Look at companies like Apple or even Coke who derive most of their profits and growth from international sales.  Need music examples, how about the fact that acts like the Chili Peppers, Foo Fighters, Pink, Beyoncé, Rihanna, Bon Jovi and Metallica are just as big if not bigger overseas than in America?

5)   Create true partnerships between content creators and providers. The producers and studios do this all the time in movies and TV (just look at Jerry Bruckheimer).

Lynda Obst’s book is a good read for the music business because it explains how Hollywood adapted to changes to survive.  Music can do the same.

Ps, If Lynda or anyone who knows her reads this, we would love to have you/her as a guest at the Aspen Live Conference, December 12-15 at the St. Regis, Aspen  Please email me at

For those reading this who haven’t registered for Aspen yet, do it now and save!  50% of our spots are already filled.  Don’t miss another year! http://www.aspenlivecom



April 8, 2009

We had another great turnout for this month’s meeting of ” The Aspen Dinner Club” last Thursday in Los Angeles.  I got glowing reports back from NY, Austin, and Indy…and we are talking about adding San Francisco and Boston next month.  You don’t have to be in Live Entertainment or Music to be a part.  All are welcome.  So last Thursday, Gang, Tyre, Ramer, and Brown’s Gene Salomon brought someone from the TV business.

Gene’s friend was from Mark Burnett Productions and his energy was infectious.  We spent the most time talking about how “everyone wants to make deals right now in Hollywood”.  It was an interesting observation.  Although there was “no money”, there was content that needed to be distributed and actors, directors, and so on that needed to be paid.  So some money was better than none.  Deals were being made.  Can’t we do that in our business too?

Live Entertainment suffers from small marketing budgets relative to the entertainment dollars we compete for with the likes of video games and the movie business (# 2 advertiser).  Brands have trouble getting their message heard but have real marketing budgets.  We should be getting deals done just like the TV and movie businesses. 

Although “it’s not about the money, it’s about the money”…it doesn’t always have to be about the money.  It can be about bringing in the money.  Let’s try partnering with corporate America rather than waiting for them to write a check…although I’ll never turn-down money.

Speak with you soon…



January 29, 2009

There is a rumor circulating that Live Nation, the world’s largest concert promoter, has hired former CAA Marketing agent Seth Matlins in the newly created role of Chief Marketing Officer.  If it is true (and I believe it is), it will be the first time that I’m aware of that a concert promoter has brought in someone from outside music to oversee marketing.  This would be big news. 

Seth is also a good fit in the world of Branded Live Entertainment.  Matlins was one of the senior people at CAA Marketing.  While at CAA he oversaw big-brand accounts including Coke, Visa, Starwood Hotels, eBay, Delta Airlines, Harley Davidson, and Hasbro…and he is smart.  Seth knows how to put the pieces together and is well connected in Hollywood as well as Madison Avenue.  Russell Wallach(who runs the sponsorship side of Live Nation) could find new ways to work with his clients through Seth.  Points to Live Nation on this one.  Now it’s time to tackle customer service.

Speaking of customer service, I’m moderating the Customer Service in the Concert Industry panel at the Concert Industry Consortium tomorrow, January 30th @ 3:30 pm in the Santa Monica Room @ the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza Hotel in LA.  The panelists are Geoff Boucher, The Los Angeles Times; Rick Mueller, Live Nation; Lee Zeidman, Staples Center/Nokia Theatre, and Patrick May, Skyline Music.  We will have free beer and wine at the event to serve you better.  Please come by.

Talk with you soon…