Music Promoters Get Smarter as Album Sales Wither

While many bemoan what’ s happened to the music business, other promoters and artists just figure out clever new ways to make more money despite sagging CD sales.  Justin Beiber, the guy so many people love to hate,  set up a partnership with the ride-sharing app, Lyft, to lift his album sales.  In a WSJ story, Hannah Karp describes how it works. “Starting the day before the album’s release date, users could opt to receive the album with any ride costing $5 or more. SoundScan counted the downloads as sales.

Maryland rapper Logic brought himself closer to his fans when he drove across the country on a tour bus to listen to his new album with his fans in their living rooms. He encouraged fans to buy multiple copies of the CD and post their receipts online, in exchange for the chance to be personally thanked with an in-person visit from the rapper.

Taylor Swift had a deal with Papa John’s Pizza, offering customers the option to add her a CD of her 2012 album “Red” to pizza pie deliveries. That boosted the album’s overall sales significantly. Another way to help sales is to do as some of the recording business’ biggest stars do:  Beyonce and Adele both withheld their new albums from all or some streaming services for the first few weeks.

Turkeys Are Getting Much, Much Bigger

I learned a bit about turkeys this week, in a story by Joann Craven in the WSJ that explains why Americans continue to be bigger in stature than every other nationality. We eat a lot of turkey. There are four kinds of turkeys, all based on size. And size has been an upward spiral, now it’s 30 pounds and it used to be 23 lbs in 1996.  The average turkey in the 1960s when I grew up was just 16 lbs, the birds were never nearly as big as today’s.

Another startling statistic is that the average man used to weigh about 165 lbs in the 1960s, today the average weight is 195. No wonder airplane seats keep getting bigger.

The turkeys have been getting bigger and bigger, and now they no longer are confined in closed in pens, but are loose with all the other turkeys. Though there will be fewer turkeys raised in 2015 than in years past, because of the weight gain, there will be more turkey meat on the tables.

The turkeys are being bred to lean to the faster growing, heaviest birds, so you’ll regularly see these big breasted heavy birds, up to 42 pounds. The Toms are the breeder birds, who fertilize the hens, so they are important. But their meat is used not for a roast turkey but for parts.  It’s the two smaller categories of birds, the breeder hen and the hen, that most people eat on Thanksgiving tables.

Why Do People Pick Such Bad Names?

I just watched a friend drink a beer in a can, it was from Newburyport Mass. The beer was called “Green Head Ale.” I can’t think of a worse thing to name a beer after than what many would consider the most annoying and pain-inducing insect at the beaches of Massachusetts. It’s a truly negative connotation, so why would anyone pick that to name the beer after?  It says nothing of the beer’s flavor, or the history, and it makes you think of being bitten on a summer day at your favorite Plum Island beach.  That being bitten part was the worst, don’t remind me on my beer can!

I met a woman who publishes a blog she calls “My Itchy Travel Feet.” I ask the same question–why would you want to interject the word ‘itchy’ which is a negative, every time you say the name of your website. I mean, my Eager Travel Feet, or something but stay away from the bad vibe of that sensation you don’t want again.

Or how about a travel blog called ‘Travel Bags with Annita”? Again, bags, it’s not about bags, it’s about travel, but why is that word even in there? it’s about your trips, and where you went, not your luggage.

These are nice women and I’m sure the brewers are great people too.  I just think they could have done a bit better picking their names!

Seeing the Grateful Dead–Three of them– In Worcester Tonight

Dead and Company

Dead and Company

The last time I went to a Grateful Dead concert I was working for the Valley Advocate in downtown Amherst, and I walked down Amity Street to the UMass McGuirk stadium to see the concert.  I am pretty certain that at that tender age of about 21, I had ingested some LSD and I also remember that I made my way all the way to the front just below the stage, and marveled at Jerry Garcia’s four finger picking.  It is a dizzy memory but I never saw the band again–until now.

I have been marveling at my friend John’s devotion to this band–he attended five shows this summer when the band reunited, first in San Mateo California and then three tremendous shows at Chicago’s Soldier Field. He’s just back from seeing this incarnation in New York City, minus Jerry and now, minus Phil Lesh, but with the addition of guitarist John Mayer.  It’s now called “Dead and Company” and it’s as close as I’ll ever get again to that glorious time at UMass.

The music still infectious, and the main difference is mostly that the fans, like me, are bald, old and grey. But we still love their music, and it will be fun to be there in the thick of this legendary trio with great taste in who they pick to fill in for members who have passed on.   Here is how the band themselves describe this tour:  “Mickey Hart, Bill Kreutzmann, and Bob Weir of the Grateful Dead — in other words, the “core four” minus Phil Lesh — are going on tour with John Mayer. Oteil Burbridge and Dead associate Jeff Chimenti are also coming along for the ride, and the whole gang are calling themselves Dead & Company.”

Cheese, Cheese and More Cheese in Provence

At Le Provencal hotel, a classic seaside resort in Giens, Provence overwhelming cheese platter.

At Le Provencal hotel, a classic seaside resort in Giens, Provence France…an overwhelming cheese platter.

How Much Do Americans Travel? Not Enough

How much do most people travel in the US? According to a recent poll by SPGAmex, it’s only 12 days a year on average. But at the TBEX conference, hands were raised and it was confirmed that in this room, we travel about 88 days a year.  But then again, most of the people here are traveling on press trips, writing stories about destinations, so we’re not very representative of the general public.

Only two hands went up among the audience of 800 when asked how many refused to take free trips offered by destinations. “If that’s true you’re at the wrong conference,” said Johnny Jet, a well-known travel blogger from the stage.  But free trips are a misnomer, as anyone who has gone on a press trip would say, because it’s a working trip, and there is little time for relaxing.  Cue the violins here.

The top destinations for Americans in 2015 are California, (30%), New Orleans Louisiana (24%), New York (21%), National Parks (21%) and Portland (16%).   For international destinations, Iceland is number one (13%) and China (11%), Japan (10%), New Zealand (10%) and Cuba (9%).

Why is Iceland number one?  Johnny talked about Wow Air, an ultra low-cost carrier with incredible deals…and it’s like a totally different world, in just five hours. It was a poignant moment during the presentation when Johnny talked about how important it is to use miles, and to gift miles you can’t use.  He recalled taking his mom to Europe using miles, and teared up thinking of that wonderful memory.  I did the same back in 2005, when we took my mom and dad to a rented villa in Tuscany for a glorious week. I’ll never forget doing that and to anyone with miles to spare, I’d tell them that it’s one of the most fulfilling things you can do in a lifetime.