Know what’s wrong with the music business today? Stupidly naive people trying to make it work and not knowing where to start while networking- more like nutworking- inside the same sheltered, insular bubble where they think they live happily ever after in their la la world, totally oblivious to how this world works which really is all about what Babs Streisand sang decades ago about people needing people.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1189N7mcS1Q

When with two music companies, I thought each of them were the center of the universe and that the sun shone outta my arse. It’s easy to fall into this trap as around you are not very smart people.

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I had forgotten my shock when joining PolyGram Music from advertising and recoiling in horror at the ineptitude of those given VP titles, the heads of “marketing”, right the way up to the Managing Directors and the Big Mayor McCheeses.

Mayor McCheese - McDonald's

In advertising, sure, there was crap floating around, but we were not submerged in it- we never suffocated from it.

We learnt to be strategic, we learnt how to write a marketing strategy, we knew good copy from bad -and we knew how to present.

All in all, our universe was a global one and with many of us having good mentors.

At PolyGram I was suddenly dealing with “marketing” people who were once in sales in some little music shop in the UK, guys whose “working experience” was liking Bon Jovi records and who could schmooze with visiting artists and get them stoned, laid or both.

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But that was then and the only “marketing” needed was to have long liquid lunches and dinners with MTV and Channel V- also short on people with grey matter- and ensure they showed our videos and made Bon Jovi or 98 Degrees their Artist Of The Month.

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The CDs would either sell by themselves or through CDWOW or CD-BABY with every local office flooding Europe with “wings”- cheap exports manufactured in places like Malaysia and sold to these “partners” for a pittance purely to make up the “numbers” in their sales forecasts.

We all knew it was a lie, but often the bullshit got the better of us and we believed these phony numbers, became delusionary and seduced by our own warped sense of self-importance. We were The Boy In The Bubble and George Castanza combined.

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Now, here we are today and though not in a music company, music is my passion and it’s part of my business to work with everyone involved in it.

Know what? The world might have moved on, there might have been some shocking hires when “new media” became the buzz word, but those George Castanzas survive in their bubble, slap each other on the back, fly around the world attending meetings, workshops and, yes, music conferences, meet the same lemmings and Carry On Regardless without truly understanding that Humpty Dumpty is cracked but with no one understanding how to put him back together again.

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This leads to more tedious journeys where the blind lead the blind with Dumb And Dumber in the front.

Let’s face it, most running music companies don’t give a flying fuck about change.

They’re tired, they know that they are surrounded by clowns and the Harry Huis of this world- Harry Hui being one of the dumbest hires by a music company in Asia- and who finally got the boot when someone at Universal Music woke up and smelt the fish.

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But the sucking up to this nincompoop who opened internal meetings with quotes from The Prophet and The Tibetan Book Of The Day to prove his “intellect” displayed the Pythonesque fawning of staff playing a pathetic game of The Emperor’s New Robes.

Harry Hui’s only strength was a smile, a handshake and posing at cocktail parties.

Hui is still around somewhere in Shanghai, but sons of the Hui Man still exist in music companies with zero knowledge on how to do business with “outside forces” and dumbed down by their own self-importance.

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Like an only child, they have been so over-protected, they are physically and mentally incapable of crossing the road alone and playing in the park with the bigger boys and girls.

And so they attend meetings in India, still think Nokia will give them big business and convince themselves that China will suddenly become the music capital of the world.

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Selling the China Dream was the most desperate- and clever- trick we played on the Big Knobs at Head Office to give this region’s offices the only reason for not being closed down. They sure as hell weren’t making any money.

Making money from music sales in Asia? Where? The Philippines? Singapore? Hong Kong? China? Puhleeeze.

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The region’s music market is still penniless whereas China remains an empty vessel making no sounds and the home of rudderless ships like Gold Typhoon, possibly the most flatulent music company in the world, and started up for reasons many know but will never talk about.

It was a brilliant ponzi scheme that played it precariously close to being completely undone and with one investor known as The Pongster- he longed to be a big, swinging dick in showbiz- taken for a real Mr Toad’s Wild Ride.

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Today, Gold Typhoon plods along with some rich Italian chick in charge and with a business plan based on duping artists into paying for everything and giving the company all their content for free in return for a “good royalty break on sales”.

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Sorry, but 100 percent of nothing is still nothing and so “sales” without bona fide marketing- and marketing without moola is just pissing in the wind- is plain unadulterated bullshit.

But when there’s no money in the bank, what does one do? Bullshit?

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What one does is look to new business streams and new business partners- and not to deal with them as if you’re the only show in town.

Same goes for promoters living in the old world and in a past where, sponsors, for example, would pay hundreds of thousands to have their logo stuck somewhere.

That’s not good enough and tough talk doesn’t wash anymore. It’s laughable.

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Having dealt with most regional and local offices of music companies, I am almost offended by the stupidity of some of them- and embarrassed for once being one of “them”.

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I listen and see executives clueless about how to mine back-catalogs, how and where to sell those things called CDs as premiums and forgetting that music is still about consumers and understanding that selling it comes down to horses for courses.

Trying to sell a client something they don’t want just because it’s a “global priority” or a “regional priority” is, again, thinking from Bubble Land.

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Here’s the deal: The music world is a tiny one and, as an industry, it’s devalued and without the clout it once had.

If it can have an annual turnover of HK$94 BILLION like the Hong Kong Jockey Club achieved last season, a weekly attendance of over 55,000 to a race meeting and a brand like Happy Wednesday, now, that’s clout and it’s where the bigger world of entertainment is heading- and this includes China.

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Apart from music companies and promoters, if artists and others involved in the entertainment BUSINESS don’t see or, more importantly, have no idea how to work with a Club like this without trying to screw them over through short-term thinking and misguided arrogance and ignorance, well, that’s just a very bad punt and time to change those same old players singing the same old song.

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