Happy New Year 2002


Welcome to the jungle, we got fun ‘n’ games. We got everything you want, honey, we know all the names. We are the people that can find whatever you may need. If you got the money, honey we got your disease. In the jungle. Welcome to the jungle.

Happy New Year and welcome to the jungle that is the entertainment business. Aren’t you glad you’re still here? It could be a lot worse. You could be one of the many who got pink slips over the holidays. The only thing more depressing than being in a bad job is having no job at all.

In the words of William DeVaughn, “Let’s be thankful for what we’ve got.”

For the past five years, I’ve started off the Editorials for each new year with a variation of the following statement: “At no other time in history has there been so much uncertainty within the radio and music industries. The past year has been chaotic and the coming year holds the promise of more change.”

Guess what?

At no other time in history has there been so much uncertainty within the radio and music industries. The past year has been chaotic and the coming year holds the promise of even more change.

Welcome back. Your dreams are your ticket out.

Compared to 10 years ago, our business is almost unrecognizable. A decade ago, who would have believed one radio company would own 1,200 stations? Who would have believed the record industry would have shrunk to only a double handful of labels owned by a handful of corporate behemoths?

Unfortunately, though the board has changed, many of us are still playing with the same pieces.

For months, I’ve been preaching the mantra of change. Now, more than ever, we have to embrace the future or become part of the past. Many are still holding on to the past, longing for better times, wishing for a return to a kinder, gentler industry. Forget about it. The measure of an executive in today’s culture is in one’s ability to grasp the future and invent new ways to meet the challenge of today’s changing world.

Don’t keep holding on to yesterday.

For the first time since we’ve been keeping records of these things, record sales decreased last year. Drastically. One of the definitions of insanity is to continue to do the same things over and over while expecting a different result. That being the case, our business is full of certified crazy people. Rising costs have changed the main priority of record executives. It used to be discovering hit records. Now, it’s reducing costs. However, instead of approaching the changing world now governing the record business with innovative new business plans, most continue to use the existing model. Record executives are demanding more of the machine while insisting on using less fuel.

In the world of business, it’s ignorant.

In meeting after meeting, I hear many promotion executives speaking in strange tongues, talking impressively of cost-cutting measures, reduced expenses, CPUs and fiscal responsibility. We aren’t graduates from business school. We aren’t part of the nerd patrol. We’re part of the most exciting group of people in the world. You didn’t have a slide rule hanging off of your belt in school, nor did you carry your pens in pocket protectors. You were cool. And you still are, unless your goal is to become a CFO. If that’s the case, resign. You aren’t qualified.

None of you were hired to cut costs. You were hired to break records. I’m not inferring that all of us shouldn’t be aware of the high cost of doing business. We should. In today’s economy, or yesterday’s for that matter, we should always try to run our business responsibly. In the case of the record business, we’ve been fleecing the golden goose for so long, we don’t know how to nurture her back to health.

Is it possible that some executives, many of whom are among the highest paid in the world, might come up with an innovative plan that will revolutionize the way we do business? They’d better. The consumer already has. We must quit concentrating on the negatives and focus on the positives. Breaking records is the promotion executive’s job. Not cutting costs. Face it: In the P&L, you are L.

There isn’t one thing that will reward you in the way you need to be rewarded: the right music. A hit record cures every ill. It balances the books and keeps the CFO at bay. It is truly the only answer. We need to stop adding numbers and start listening. Then we need to get other people listening.

So let’s make a New Year’s resolution to stop talking about the business and start talking about the music. Besides, without music, everything else is just boring conversation.

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