From Client Rep to Business Development Manager, not to mention Valentine’s Day male Orchard stand-in, we’re a bit at a loss as to what the #&@$ do you really do. Enlighten us?
Orchard modeling really doesn’t pay the bills so my main focus has been on the business development side. What this means is focusing on new and existing music services, applications and other partnerships that feature The Orchard’s audio catalog and making sure that our labels are fairly compensated.
As the digital music landscape has rapidly changed, so have the business models, usage rules and fee structures around those avenues and the business development team oversees this constantly changing environment. There’s also a lot of upkeep in executing our deals, from managing the reporting and delivery integration to leading internal communication and compiling analytics on services’ growth.
Lastly, I work under Tom Wheeley, which means I tangentially listen to a lot of late-90s Brit-Rock against my will.
Ha! Tom spares no victims when it comes to Brit-Rock.
In terms of developing business, which areas are growing the most and what challenges do you face in incorporating them into The Orchard’s distribution landscape?
Tough question! Soundscan sales and downloaded tracks have long ruled as tangible benchmarks in our industry but they’re no longer an encompassing, standalone view of what success means today. We’re moving to a more audience-focused, data-centric approach and it’s our team’s job to pursue and provide our content in as many opportunities possible to navigate this landscape as it develops.
In addition to investigating new models, it’s also important to remember that we’re still breaking ground on a lot of new territories where smartphones, digital music services, and copyrighted, licensed music in general, haven’t taken hold. For example, we’re starting to see multiple streaming services make a serious push in to Nigeria, Ghana, Angola and other developing markets with very little historical precedent of digital music penetration. We’re also encountering entirely new degrees of specialization as services are diversifying via genre-specific streaming models and reduced catalog, playlist-focused offerings that aim to undercut the standard $9.99 subscription market rate. There’s not a cohesive “one-size-fits-all” digital music service so it’s our job to make sure we’re in as many as possible if a compelling opportunity exists.
It appears you’re a well respected music tastemaker and run the blog Bempology.com, along with Spotify and Songza playlists that you update regularly. How did you get into that, and what’s your favorite thing about it?
Can’t say I’d call myself that but thanks! I was an early HypeM and music-blog devotee in college and have always enjoyed the discovery process, which nowadays is a lot easier with the amount of streaming and algorithmic recommendation options. My favorite thing is being able to catch incredibly good artists for $10-15 at smaller venues before they play larger, more expensive venues that I loathe. Some names to watch: Years and Years, Shura, Seinabo Sey, Ryn Weaver, Josef Salvat.
Awesome! Pushing play….now. Thanks for sharing what the #&@$ you do, Jeff! We hope to see you pouty-face and all in our next high fashion Orchard spread.
how your first aid-bro kit came about (we’ve heard you’re the man to see for emergency body spray): I enjoy creating/subsequently treating hangovers for fellow employees.
drink of choice when out on the town: PBR tall-boy
how you felt when you won a second hand “Sexiest Man at The Orchard” award at our Holiday Party 3 years ago: Brave for accepting the award Charles Hendricks couldn’t handle.
random fact: I played tennis most of my life and in college and pretty much love any sport with a racket — tennis, squash, ping pong, kadima, etc.
Well my very fine Freeloaders, it’s that time of the year again. The Happy Merry Everything time! It’s the season of celebrations, bright lights, spiked eggnog and gifts wrapped in sparkly bows. Which also means another year has come to a close! Before we bid you adieu until the New Year, I’ve got to throw in one last Freeloader Friday. It’s a short list, but it’ll leave you wanting more in 2015. So here goes!
There’s quite the burgeoning underground music scene in Nashville, and not the kind you’d expect from the region. BZRK is a large part of it and they’ve made for themselves a power posse of the “dopest poets.” The Hip-Hop collective pulls from those old-school Rap beats, but adds their own Southern, sultry twist. Not to mention their shout-outs to Gandalf and Karen Carpenter – keep your eyes peeled for more to come from these charming Southern gents.
On to track premieres – bet you didn’t see this one coming! Crazy Town, yep the “Butterfly” dudes, are BACK. And ready to party. With you. The song starts with that familiar, seething pulse you may remember from the 90s. Then it goes into a banger of Electrified Rock, with undertones from that glorified “Hey Song” played at all football games. It’s a new direction for the crew, but sure to be a hit at your Holiday party. Also on the list, there’s a much more subdued Rock track from Evans the Death, perfect for your post-Holiday party doldrums. It’s wallow-y and mellow, but has just enough edge to keep your spirits bright.
And to wrap things up appropriately, I give you the final three music videos of the year. If The Shrine’s latest video goes viral, they will most definitely NOT be getting anything from Santa. It’s the “best video ever” in a wild weed & whisky-induced sort of way. White Prism shows the electric buzz of our beloved New York as she traverses the boroughs, and Johan Agebjörn (you know him from Sally Shapiro) dares you not to get in a playful spirit in his video starring raccoons and cats (I’m still working on it, too).
That does it for the year, folks. Have a wonderful, fun-filled and safe Winter Break. See you in 2015!
BZRK: Full mixtape stream via Impose
Anesthetic Awareness out now on Jeffery Drag Records
Crazy Town: “Megatron” track premiere via Billboard
Megatron out January 27 on Membran
Evans The Death: “Don’t Laugh At My Angry Face” track premiere via Stereogum
Expect Delays out March 2015 on Fortuna Pop!
The Shrine: “Tripping Corpse” official music video premiere via Noisey
Bless Off out now on Tee Pee Records
White Prism: “Patience” official music video premiere via VNDL
Patience out now on MNRCH
Johan Agebjörn: “Right to Play” official music video premiere via Under the Radar
The Right to Play out now on Paper Bag Records
“I wish I could have seen The Cure back then,” my friend Xio said to me the other day. “When I was 13 in 1996, my diary was full of crush notes to Robert Smith.” Xio went on to see The Cure a couple of times, and Depeche Mode too. Of course today, both bands have achieved a legendary status, enough to justify multiple box sets of singles, rarities, remixes, live performances and such. And right now, the holiday gift giving season is the time for the latest avalanche of super deluxe box sets in the physical realm.
With so much of our business moving to digital and especially streaming, you’d think the days of these pricey coffee table heavyweight packages would be over. But as art objects in and of themselves, box sets bring an immersive fan experience that is qualitatively different than streaming some of those same tracks on Spotify. They are an excuse to celebrate our inner geekdom and obsessiveness to the smallest details. Like Jimmy Page’s more prominent acoustic guitar in the Sunset Sound Mix of “Stairway To Heaven” on Led Zeppelin’s just reissued/remastered IV Deluxe (aka ZOSO), or the instrumental versions of some of your Zep classics on I-IV before Robert Plant added his vocals. Really? I never heard John Paul Jones’ keyboard part in there before! Or the improved stereo imaging and fine sonic detail in Bruce Springsteen’s classic The River, just issued this week (as part of The Album Collection 1973-1984.)
But it’s not just a question of sharper bass with more low frequencies or a kick drums that you can feel in your chest vs. fairly HQ 320 kbps MP3s that are easy to purchase. Let’s face it, no one reads 20 page liner notes by veteran Rock writers like David Fricke or Greil Marcus online about all the minutiae involving The Velvet Underground Super Deluxe with its 3 different mixes of the same album or Bob Dylan & The Band Basement Tapes Complete with multiple versions of the same song in different tempos or styles. It’s a different listening experience sitting at home on a Saturday afternoon reading the book while the music plays than rocking some tunes on your smartphone on a bus or a subway on your way to work. Something vinyl lovers have long known as well.
As the physical realm continues to adapt to the realities of the modern niche market place, box sets are where record labels can recoup on long-term investments and trend setting cult artists can finally grab some of the mainstream attention they’ve long deserved. Like British Invasion-influenced Pop masters Big Star finally getting their due with multiple box sets, reissues and a fine documentary, “Nothing Can Hurt Me,” after years of only being acknowledged by fellow musicians and indie trailblazers like The Replacements. Today, the simple act of physically compiling brings streaming attention to the new classics, such that Paul Westerberg, Tommy Stinson and company can play their college radio “underground hits” to packed stadium sing alongs decades later, as many of us witnessed in Forest Hills, NY this past summer.
In the last few years we’ve seen a wide range of large box sets from icons like The Clash, Woody Guthrie, Johnny Cash and even Judas Priest. The real question is who are today’s musical heroes that will be compiled in the years ahead? Will LCD Soundsystem ever merit a reissue like Underworld’s 5 CD Super Deluxe Dubnobasswithmyheadman including live rehearsals by an Electronica group in the act of composition? Are Machine Head destined to become the next Judas Priest or Metallica? Or will they be this generation’s Diamond Head spearheading the mostly under the radar NWOBHM (that’s new wave of British Heavy Metal) and thereby influencing every major Thrash/Speed Metal act in their wake? Will Eminem and Jay Z ever be anthologized like James Brown was on the 4 Funk-filled Star Time CDs? And can the Foo Fighters, Maroon 5 and even Nickelback transcend their mass appeal to reach Journey’s guilty pleasures God-like status for stadium anthems? “Don’t Stop Believin’…”