Big wheels and Christmas music

I caEarle Smithn remember during my 7th Christmas, I received a big wheel. Boy was I ecstatic! So much so, that I was allowed a one day reprieve by riding it throughout the house as soon as I got it – attempting donuts and all by applying the plastic brake as hard as I could! The reprieve lasted three minutes…

To me, Christmas isn’t about receiving gifts; it’s about celebrating the birth of Christ, being thankful that I have the ability to put a smile on the face of someone else – and make their holiday as joyous as it was for me when my grandparents put one on mine that day.

Christmas has a special place in my heart and I have an appreciation for what drives my Holiday spirit and creates joy in my life: It’s by far the music! Hearing a favorite Christmas song, or remembering a specific place or event when a Christmas song comes on – there’s no substituting that. The power of music makes the holiday season an enjoyable one for me every year.

(Earle Smith – Neurotic Media Production & Merchandising)

Mistletoe, music and memories

Music is clearly an important part of the Holiday season. It’s the one time of year when millions of us all across the nation are living our lives to a shared or similar soundtrack. And with those “songs of the season” come memories.Gary Eaton

As a personal example, every time I hear one particular Holiday song, I am immediately taken back to my Indiana childhood, probably around the age of 8 or 10. In this instance, the memory is of gray winter skies, snow on the ground and me standing in the hallway (in my pajamas I might add) looking into the living room with the Christmas tree in full view.

The song that evokes these memories is “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” by Glen Campbell. The funny thing is, it’s not my favorite Christmas song – it’s not even my favorite version of this song. But it is one that has some of the most powerful, vivid memories associated with it.

I’m sure you have your own examples as well. These types of experiences are one of the reasons why Holiday music can be such an effective part of a brand’s promotional strategy. There’s an opportunity to tap in to the nostalgic holiday memories of consumers and/or create new memories for them as well. I don’t know if the value of that can even be measured, but I do know that music moves all of us – especially during the Holiday season.

(Gary Eaton – VP Sales Neurotic Media / @garyeaton)

A perfect karaoke place, a perfect karaoke song

Do you feel shy and nervous to sing karaoke even though you always wish to go to the karaoke place?

I wasLing Zhu always wondering why my colleagues feel too shy to sing karaoke while they are quite confident in speaking in public. In contrast, I am quite open in karaoke but shy to speak much in public. The answer is that American karaoke is quite different from Asian karaoke. In normal American karaoke, you need to sing to everybody, all the friends and strangers in the public room. And everybody is staring at you when you are singing. However in Asian karaoke, only your friends can listen to you in a smaller but private room. Inside this separated room, there are always bigger screens, fancy spinning lights, drums, bells and computers. When you sing, your friends can find many ways to get involved, support you and enjoy themselves even though your singing skill is not that good. So no worry for them if you miss the notes or can’t reach the high pitch!

If you still feel a little nervous even in Asian karaoke, then pick the song “Jingle Bells” first. We have tried this song several times and it brings most fun every time. Everyone, old and young, men and women, American and non-American can sing this song with you. Interesting enough, everyone just can’t stop clapping hands or even dancing in lines with its rhythms, especially when it comes to “Hey jingle bells, jingle bells.” Can’t believe it? Try once during this Christmas holiday!

(Ling Zhu – Neurotic Media Developer)

Brands and Holiday music

When I was getting started in the music business, one of my first assignments was to go through a large box of cassettes from a record label that specialized in Christmas music. For the next few weeks, all I did was listen to their holiday music and write reviews and descriptions for each project.

Little did Gary Eaton I know that this assignment was an indicator of things to come. As it turns out, Holiday music makes for a significant business for record companies and brand partnerships. In fact, I went on to work with holiday music on an almost year-round basis (try to contain your jealousy please). Over the years, I’ve created a long list of branded holiday compilations that have gone on to sell millions of copies.

One of the most important lessons I’ve learned along the way is this – when brands are working with Holiday music, one of the keys to success is this three-word motif: Know your audience.

If you are looking to appeal to a broad demographic base, it’s often best to use traditional artists such as Bing Crosby, Nat “King” Cole, Dean Martin and other similar performers.  Those artists have provided a seasonal soundtrack for multiple generations. The warmth of the Christmas spirit is deeply rooted in nostalgia, tradition and family. Classic Holiday recordings from legendary artists are often as relevant to a twenty something as they are to grandparents, simply because we’ve all grown up with this music.

Seasonal tracks from contemporary artists can certainly be an effective strategy – particularly if your target audience is a younger demographic. Just keep in mind that newer material does not have the historical track record to make an emotional connection with older consumers. There simply aren’t many memories associated with a new song. I have seen holiday promotions fail by brands choosing contemporary music over traditional artists. By choosing a specific newer artist(s) the brand limited their appeal to a very small niche group. At face value it may seem that using a current artist is a compelling choice for the Holidays – and it can be – just be sure to consider the full spectrum of dynamics when making these decisions.

Of course, each situation is unique and there is no one-size-fits-all answer. If you are considering holiday music as part of your brand strategy, we’d be happy to discuss options and possibilities. Please feel free to give us a call 404-688-6858 or email us if you’d like more information.

(Gary Eaton – VP Sales & Marketing)

Neurotic Media’s 10 YR Anniversary

Neurotic Media Party - Team ToastMy thanks to everyone who participated in this Friday’s party and raised a toast to Neurotic Media’s past, present and future – you truly helped make 11.11.11 a Friday to remember!  

Thanks to all – employees, clients, partners, investors, friends, family, and colleagues – for celebrating our success. You have been a part of this journey and we thank you for your ongoing support.

I want to take a few minutes and share Friday’s experience with those of you who could not attend. Below are highlights from my speech, accompanied by pictures from the party.  

Before Neurotic Media

Neurotic Media Anniversary - CEO's speechBefore I founded Neurotic Media I majored in music – something most people tell you to never do. When I first started recording and interview artists in college, I could have never imagined working with the likes of Tori Amos, County Crows, Nick Cave and Greenday, may it be via live recordings, on-air interviews, or promotional work. I fell in love with the trade, and I decided to try and build a career in music.

My first experience with the internet as a music promotion channel was when I was working for Ichiban Record: We had one PC with a 14K modem, and we used to stand in line to send emails to radio stations, publicists and retailers about our new releases. It took ages! Remember AOL’s “Welcome, you’ve got mail” messages? This was 1995.

In the late 90s, I was fortunate enough to work for Amplified Holdings, a digital music pioneer, where I had great mentorship from the likes of Frazier Hollis, Jim Swindel, Wayne Parker and Russ Chandler, and an opportunity to learn a lot about the start-up and high-tech business. We created the first-ever business-to-business digital one-stop service. And then the bubble burst…  

2001 

Shachar Oren circa 2001Peter Jennings circa 2001This year presented the opportunity to strike out on my own, and I invited Peter Jennings (on right – and yes that’s me on the left), who worked with me at Amplified Holdings previously, to join me and found a company. One of the most common things people ask me is how we came up with the company name.

Well, we came up with a couple of hundred names on a whiteboard – this and that “…Tech” and this and that “…it” – and it all sounded boarding, contrived, and too techie.

Neurotic Media old logoWe wanted a name that is entertaining, fun, and catchy – and represented the feel of the times. And in mid 2001, well, I think we were ALL very neurotic, weren’t we? And so we went with Neurotic Media… We set out to try it for three months and just see if we could make it work.

2002

ItchiSix month into it in 2002, not only did we make it work, but we were launching our own Neurotic Media platform – using four old personal computers! The DB servers were called Itchy and Scratchy. One of them is used by Todd as a door stop to his office (picture on right).

This was also the year that I got rid of my hair. I felt like I was no longer working the creative side of music and I had to talk to investors. I needed to look “serious” and I foolishly believed back then that a short hair cut was the ticket.

2003

By 2003, we were working with the four major record companies – UMG, Sony, WMG and EMI – syndicating promotional downloads through major portals including MSN, AOL and Yahoo. This was a marketing function and we established ourselves as a strong B2B music service.

2004

This year is when Apple launched the iPOD and re-launched iTunes, and marketing dollars started shifting away from marketing syndication on portals to placement and promotions through download store – which in short order became iTunes, Amazon and Napster.

It presented a challenge – the marketing dollars were shrinking… but because we built enough trust with our main clients, our clients asked us to basically design an “iTunes in the box” system that they can use with their entire catalog to support private-label solutions. Record companies started sending us millions of songs to host instead of a handful or promos, and asked us to build a robust stores system – an enterprise class system. Part of this change involved shifting our business model into a Software as a Service model.

PrinceThe shift started with some of our marketing portals. For example, MSN partnered with Prince’s label to build a co-branded Prince/MSN store for Prince’s new album, and hired us to build it. A representative from Prince’s record company called daily, for a few weeks, for details about the build-out and the user experience. He worked with Peter and I closely to get it done, and we spent hours on the phone with him…. We learned later that all those calls we received were actually from Prince himself! Since we were both huge fans, we found that story exciting and a bit frustrating too (we wish we knew it was him when we were talking to him!).

2005

We spent the year building the new platform that the record companies had asked for in 2004. It took us over a year to build it.

Peter Jennings died tragically one month before our new platform was launched. This was a very hard period for us, a dark period. It was a different company without Peter, and it has been so since. But we knew Peter would want us to go on, and with the help of many colleagues, friends, and the hard work of many employees, we continued to forge ahead.

There were some bright spots too in 2005 as well: Todd Jones joined the team and brought enthusiasm, energy and deep understanding of the technology. My sister Hila also joined the team to help for a few years and made a big difference. We made it through. I was thankful to have the support of family, friends, and new colleagues during this tough year.

2006

McDonaldsIn 2006 we took on McDonalds for a Pirates of the Caribbean value-add campaign for people who supersized their Mac. A lot of our employees indeed supersized their Mac because of their excitement for this promotion.

With McDonalds, we reached a million music downloads in one month – and that is when we knew we had done it right, built the right solution in the right way. We were ready for more.

2007

Work, work, work. Growth. We needed more resources and were lucky enough to get our first round of angel investment. Thanks to those investors who join us tonight for your continued support. Particularly Randal Foster, who is actually a “Founding Angel” having made his first investment as early as 2004 – thank you for believing in us that early and sharing our vision and enthusiasm for the space over the years!

2008

In 2008 it was more work and more growth, with more members joined the team including Evan, Abby, and Becka.

2009

Neurolinq Open API Developer LabWe launched our open API developer lab, NeuroLinq, as the first-to-market API tool available openly for developers to prototype apps, widgets and sites within the music space. We launched several clients on this solution rather swiftly.

Mazzy also joined us at this time and added enthusiasm and sassiness that our team really enjoys.

2010

Tim joined our team as VP of Development and successfully brought our R&D and maintenance in-house. He also brought Ling on Board as a Junior Developer. We now had a full in-house development team for the first time. Earle joined us in 2010 as well and has been a great addition to the Production team.

We were still working in our old building. One day, I got stuck in the foyer with a broken door lock after a late night on a Friday. I had to call a locksmith to get out. As I waited several hours for him to arrive, I realized it was time… we had to move to better offices!

2011 

Neurotic Media's HQWe moved into our new office here at The Stoveworks building, which is a creative and fun space! People started bringing their dogs to work and I started to feel great about our company’s culture. My dog visits with me too sometimes.

Gary joined the company this year as well and has been heading up Sales. We established “Amplified Brands” this year as a service, and we also built first-to-market mobile/social/music technology that you all have access to tonight via the QR Code on our poster – this is about location-based marketing incentives using music as the reward.

We established a new brand for Neurotic Media this year – “music that moves” – because we have come to know how powerful our music is in driving customer behavior, and because we move millions of music downloads for our clients each year. It is a fun new branding message and it seems to resonate well with people.

Future

We have some fantastic innovations launching in the next six months, so stay tuned for those. Beyond that, we’ll build things that I can’t yet imagine. Our future is wide open and full of possibility. For now, all I know is that I get to work at a company where I can listen to music all day with people I love.

A New Tradition  

Todd Jones, Neurotic Employee of the DecadeNeurotic Employee of the Decade award was awarded to our Production Director, Todd Jones, for his diligent service of client needs and dedication to Neurotic Media since starting as an intern back in 2005.

Thank you Todd!

Ling Zhu, Neurotic Employee of the YearNeurotic Employee of the Year award was awarded to our Junior Developer, Ling Zhu, for her hard work and the ton of extra homework done right on a regular basis. Ling’s work ethic has been incredible since joining us a year ago.

Thank you Ling!

Thank you DJs Ari-El and Johnny K for the grooves, and thank you JK & The Lost Boys for the live music!

Additonal pictures are available on our Facebook page.

(Shachar Oren, Founder and CEO)

Soundtrack for Fall

The leavesSoundtrack for Fall are starting to turn yellow, orange and red here in Atlanta. The sun is setting a little earlier every day and the air is crisp. It’s Fall. Without question, my favorite time of year.

And since 1992, every year around this time, there’s one album in particular that moves to heavy rotation on my playlist. There was no “hit single” or chart topping activity, but it’s remained a favorite of mine since it was released. Neil Young’s “Harvest Moon” is my annual soundtrack for Fall. Something about Neil’s trademark vocal delivery and the primarily acoustic arrangements just seem to speak to me on a personal level during this season. The production feels earthy, the guitars are crisp and the harmonies by Nicolette Larson, Linda Ronstadt and James Taylor are laid back, soft and gentle. For me, the Fall season just isn’t complete without several listens to this album in its entirety, especially the title track. If you’re not familiar with “Harvest Moon” you can click here for previews. Who knows, it may become a seasonal soundtrack of your own.

This speaks to something that is instinctive: Music is personal to each of us. It’s important. It matters. We’re all moved by music of some kind – we’re just often listening to different soundtracks.

How about you? Are there specific albums that move you this time of year?

(Gary Eaton – Neurotic Media VP Sales)

Interviewing your idol

Nich Cave and Shachar Oren 1994At the risk of dating myself (yeah, tough that), I want to share a little story from Lollapalooza 1994, when I got to interview Nick Cave for WRAS 88.5 and photograph him for a magazine I wrote for. Cave was an artist I’ve idolized since the late 80’s, I listened to anything he had released, and I was amazed by his lyrical talent, his musicianship, and his dramatic delivery. I expected to meet an idol. I had no idea what that meant, but I had high expectations. After all, he had developed a strong and unique “brand” for himself. I was green at what I was doing and I was very nervous going into this interview.

Nick CaveThe interview went well: Cave acted a bit sheepish in the beginning, but loosened up as we went and got sarcastic and even foolish at times. He answered all of my questions with interest and I felt I had plenty to write about when it ended – about his experience on the road, his life in Brazil at the time, the latest record he released (Henry’s Dream), things of that nature.

When the interview was officially over, things got really silly. The Bad Seeds – Cave’s band – had been sitting across from us all along in the expansive green room in Lakewood Amphitheater, talking among themselves, drinking beers and entertaining several girls (no idea if spouses, girlfriends or groupies). Cave got up to join them and made his way to one of the girls, grabbed her by both hands, and pulled her down to the carpeted floor with him. They started rolling together on the carpet from one side of the room to the other like toddlers playing a silly wrestling match, while the band members cracked up laughing and cheered them on. So here I saw a new side of Cave: The band’s Jester. The party leader, hungry for attention. 

Nick Cave Lollapalooza 1994I couldn’t quit put together why a man of his age and stature would behave with such adolescent playfulness. But something did click: He was a human being. He was no longer the mysterious persona behind the sounds, lyrics and images of his records. He was no longer the untouchable stage figure who belted out rock phrases and worked the crowd with strong theatrics. He was a human being, a person, someone who can come across as sensitive and childish on one hand and as a confident leader on the other.

This early experience helped me put “stars” in perspective and eased my way into many other interviews I conducted over the years. I still buy anything Cave releases of course, including the last two awesome Grinderman releases. He’s still at it, creating music and performing – and presenting the same “dark knight” (and I mean dark, not in the Batman sense of the word) brand of music to us. And I suppose I am still at it too, listening, observing, and writing about it.

(Shachar Oren, Neurotic Media CEO).

Digital music sales on the rise

As someGary Eaton one that’s worked in the music industry for nearly 25 years, I’ve seen quite a few changes and trends. Over the weekend I was reading a piece in Billboard that highlighted some encouraging news: Sales of digital music in 2011 are up significantly compared to the same period in 2010. Of course, the overall trend for digital music sales have increased year over year, but the current jump is significant.

According to Billboard, Nielsen SoundScan estimates the increase in digital music sales by the end of 2011 may represent an additional $300 million of revenue compared to last year. Billboard states, “American consumers have purchased an additional 12 million digital albums and 90.5 million tracks on top of what they had purchased at the same point in 2010.” If these numbers are indeed met by the end of the year, 2011 may represent one of the most significant shifts in the music industry that any of us have witnessed.

That’s quite an exciting story! And it confirms something we all know: People are passionate about music! Here at Neurotic Media, we use the passion fans have for music to put the spotlight on our clients and help them achieve their business and marketing goals. This is what infuses us with passion and purpose in our daily interaction with our clients. Music can likely play a vital role in the marketing and promotion strategy of your business too. Let me know if you’d like to explore the possibilities.

(Gary Eaton – Neurotic Media VP Sales)

Something that changed my view of music forever

About four years ago, I was watching the movie “Cellular”…a pretty decent movie, but I can honestly say that I can’t remember half of it because of what happened next. During the end credits, something happened to me that changed my view of music forever. The song “Sinnerman” (Felix Da Housecat’s Heavenly House Mix) by Nina Simone was playing and it sounded like nothing I’ve ever heard before.Earle Smith

Directly after, I looked the song up on the internet, and from there, started to look up more and more songs. I had NEVER been a house music fan before this. I listened primarily to rap. Rap. A genre so hopelessly watered-down with regurgitated beats and meaningless repeated lyrics.

Soon after, my iTunes was filled with nothing but house music. All kinds. Now I’m a house DJ and I don’t even listen to rap anymore. House music has taken over my playlist, and my life. So uplifting, positive and fun.

I’ll have to catch up to Felix and thank him one day.

(Earle Smith – Neurotic Media Production & Merchandising)

Music Midtown 2011 Delivered

The Black Keys at Music Midtown 2011I missed this festival. Back in the nineties they use to produce 2-3 days events, with multiple genre-centric stages to accommodate a broad range of fans. Like many festivals back then it got a bit too big too fast, and eventually a bit out of hand. The last Music Midtown I attended about a decade ago was produced on an asphalt parking lot in midtown behind the Civic Center, which made for a horribly hot experience and one I would ever wanted to repeat.

This weekend, Music Midtown returned from a 6-year hiatus to Piedmont Park, with two stages in the meadow – a grassy valley surrounded by a sloping hill shaded by trees. This was a return to true form – a comfortable, beautiful venue for the festival.

Most bands on the lineup were developing, relatively unknown bands. Personally, the only one that shined for me in that mix and picked my interest is Young The Giant – I will have to listen to their album. And then, The Black Keys, baby! The Black Keys are, well, just so good! Solid, intimate performance, amazingly energetic and totally fun.

Coldplay at Music Midtown 2011The headliners – Coldplay – opened with a bang. Literally: They launched their first song with fireworks. I was worried about how their performance would translate in the park setting. I saw them a year and a half ago when they came through Atlanta in support of their last album, they performed to a sold out Phillips Arena back then, and provided plenty of theatrics on stage which I was worried would be too cheesy following a full day of raw rock n roll. However, in Piedmont Park, they focused more on the music and less on the theatrics – and used impressive pyrotechnics and lasers to augment the music with some exciting drama. Most important, Coldplay’s musical performance was simply wonderful. Towards the end of their show they also performed a couple of new songs that sounded wonderful (one is a single in waiting…); and then, closed with fireworks again.

Thank you Music Midtown! Looking forward to next year’s event, which hopefully would be even bigger!

(by Shachar Oren, Neurotic Media CEO)

All Work and No Music Makes Stephen A Dull Boy

Stephen Lam

To borrow a well known phrase, “All work and no music makes Stephen a dull boy.”

Although I have no musical ability, my entire life revolves around music.  Music is my way of connecting with others…it’s also my way of “getting away” from the world. The feeling I get when a song comes on that relates to my life is profound.  Music to me is a way of life and without music it wouldn’t be a life worth living.

Since I started my internship at Neurotic Media about a month ago, I have learned a lot about merchandising and marketing online stores as well as how to operate their vast computer system database.  Merchandising and marketing music has actually helped expand my musical palette and increase my willingness to listen to different types of music.  I have discovered a few new artists along the way such as singer-songwriter Randy Montana and Australian indie rock band The Temple Trap.  Both have two very different sounds, but after I gave them a listen I enjoyed branching out of my normal pop/rock/alternative comfort zone.

As an intern, I’ve been able to experience working with great, hardworking people who love what they do and encourage my work.  And I’m excited to learn as much as I can about music and marketing while I’m here.

(Stephen Lam – Neurotic Media Intern)

Bubbles, Daisies and Good Music

Anyone that knows me wouldn’t be surprised to learn that I could probably spend every day surrounded by bubbles and bouquets of daisies on the beach at sunset. And that’s pretty much how my wedding played out.

I went to a wedding recently in the middle of a Moulin Rouge themed antique store.  The bride and groom walked down the “aisle” to a Smashing Pumpkins instrumental and left to The Beatles “When I’m Sixty Four”.  And it was perfect.  When you’re surrounded by boas, masks and mannequins, you don’t necessarily expect to hear Pachelbel: “Canon in D.”

There is nothing wrong with tradition if that’s your thing, but since music is such a big part of my life, I put some serious thought into deciding on the music for my [our] own wedding.

Becka WeddingWe were married on the beach.  After we had been pronounced man and wife, my cousin played an acoustic version of the first part of Neutral Milk Hotel’s “In the Aeroplane Over the Sea.”  Even though my cousin’s performance was competing with the sound of the waves, this was the first song my husband and I heard as a married couple. It was the transition from the ceremony to our lives together.

“What a beautiful face I have found in this place that is circling all round the sun…”

And though there are some songs that come and go throughout your life, this one continues to inspire me. Everyone needs a little inspiration [and maybe some bubbles and daisies and good music].

 “…and one day we will die and our ashes will fly from the aeroplane over the sea.  But for now we are young, let us lay in the sun and count every beautiful thing we can see…” (lyrics by Jeff Mangum)

(Becka Hardy – Neurotic Media Label Relations & Account Management)

A Proper American Voice

Ling ZhuPronouncing words in English is quite different from pronouncing Chinese when one speaks. The tonality, the weight placement in a word, and many of the shared sounds between the languages are just handled very differently, which I have found over time to be an interesting challenge.

In order to establish my proper “American voice”, I needed to feel more relaxed in my mouth and move the “center position” of where I make sound a little bit backward in the mouth cavity.

When I started practicing this, I tried to sing American songs with simple lyrics and rhythms like “Twinkle little star”, “Do-Re-Mi”, ”To be with you”… I still do this today, almost twice a week: I go to my apartment gym (which luckily is always empty), and sing those songs more loudly than I can bear. I can really feel my improvement in my daily speech and accent, and this in turn helps ease the daily pressures at work and in living in the USA and talking to people in general. Music/speech therapy, if you will. 

I met a nice guy a few days ago that was willing to help test my singing skills. So I started to sing: “…You are my sunshine, my only sunshine, you make me happy when skies are gray; you’ll never know dear how much I, I, I like you (ah, yes I changed the lyrics here); please don’t take my sunshine away…” To my surprise, he launched into singing with me. His green eyes sparkled and I could sense that his heart was speeding. So was mine…

(Ling Zhu – Neurotic Media Developer)

Playing for nobody

Todd JonesI started DJing at clubs about 3 months ago. For the most part, I’ve been blessed with playing to relatively crowded rooms. Over the last three weeks, however, I’ve played two shows that were totally empty. The first one had about 20 people in a club that holds 300, and the second night was even slower. At one point, a friend of mine that had come for support turned to me and said “I think we know everyone in this room right now.” The crowd was literally personal friends that had come out to support us, and three other people.

Even though the room was virtually empty, I got a lot of positive feedback about the way I played the shows. Everyone said that I was into the music, and rocking out just like I had when I was playing to a full room. What all these people don’t know is this is exactly how I act when I’m sitting at home or in my office listening to music as well. I guess the moral of the story is that if you’re doing something that involves music, for work or please, as long as the music moves you, then you’ll be ok.

(Todd Jones – Neurotic Media Production Director)

Beatriz Luengo rocks the house at our RCA Music Showcase

Beatriz Luengo at RCA Expo Neurotic Media ShowcaseBeatriz Luengo and crew gave an amazing performance at last week’s RCA Expo Neurotic Media Music Showcase. Thank you Beatriz for the entertaining and fun performance and great music!  RCA members continued to praise your performance for the duration of the conference!

We want to also thank Sony Music US/Latin (especially Carla, Yvette and Phil) for supporting the event; RCA for facilitating the opportunity; and Sprint for co-sponsoring the evening at the Las Vegas MGM Grand’s Tabu club.

Steve Berry President and CEO of RCAWe are including a few images from the show – including Steve Berry, President & CEO of Rural Cellular Association (RCA) introducing Beatriz to RCA members.

Beatriz Luengo and Chip DamatoAnother picture shows Beatriz joined by Inland Cellular’s Chip Damato on the dance floor – her music truly moved the crowd.

Having gained Triple Platinum status for digital sales in Spain with 2008’s Carrousel and record sales of over 1 million albums in France, Belgium, Switzerland and Spain, it’s clear Beatriz’s music transcends borders.

Her new album, Bela Y Sus Moskitas Muertas, will be available to the public THIS WEEK – released 9/20.

Beatriz Luengo at MGM Grand's Tabu clubThe second song Beatriz performed for us last Wednesday is her new single, Como Tú No Hay 2 – an exciting blend of pop, reggae, and hip hop that is unlike most pop songs being played on the radio today. If you liked the song, give your local radio station a call and ask them to play it for you again. And watch for more Beatriz tour dates later this year.

Thank you for joining us for this second Music Showcase and we look forward to seeing you in the next RCA Expo.

RCA Expo Neurotic Media Music Showcase September 2011

Move Subscribers To Spend More

I’m fascinated by the way both music and technology drive consumer behavior, and my own behavior for that matter. Growing up, I’d hear a song I liked on the radio, go buy the record and bring it home to listen to in my room. The music was a powerful driver of purchase. The record player was the technology of choice. Life was simple back then.

Shachar OrenThings have changed quite a bit with emerging technology. Consumer behavior has changed in kind. The other day I wasn’t surprised to read that 34% of people play music on their phone (Pew, 2011). Mobile devices have become so accessible to all of us – I myself download and sideload entire playlists to my phone. I have hundreds of songs on my phone – my 8GB chip is maxed. With such drastic change between what I do now with music and what I did back then, I’m curious to know what people like me will do next as technology evolves again. Recently, I’ve had my eye on HTML5. It looks like HTML5 – a new markup language for mobile browsers – is going to be in everything. I’ve been watching it lately because it could have important implications to the way our consumers behave and the way our industry works.

For starters, there is a shift brewing within market leaders to use HTML5 to reach independence and control over mobile engagement and commerce. In a recent article in Business Insider, Facebook co-founder Roger McNamee is quoted to have stated that HTML5 is going to change everything: “In HTML5, an ad is an app, a tweet is an app, everything is an app; it is a blank sheet of paper, and creativity rules again.”

As if to echo this sentiment, both Amazon and Wal-Mart just announced HTML5-driven experiences that allow consumers to interact with their cloud services (Amazon’s Kindle Cloud Reader and Wal-Mart VUDU). This allows both companies to bypass Apple’s app store selling restrictions. 

Brands and consumers alike would benefit from more choices and less restrictions on what they can do on the mobile web and how they can monetize their businesses. HTML5 helps make that possible. It supports software-agnostic interoperability of websites and services, which in turn can drive usage up.   

Combining music and HTML5 is beneficial for brands: It provides a software-agnostic distribution channel for the universal power of music. Neurotic Media’s mobile HTML5 music sites can be used by any consumer on any smart-phone with sufficient HTML5 support – iOS, Android, RIM, Win7, etc. This is a great value proposition for many brands – especially for carriers who seek to increase ARPU with a lift in smart phone purchases and data plan subscriptions. To see an example, visit one of our mobile stores by scanning this QR Code with your smart phone. Remember that the template you see is easily customizable for your needs.

Let us know how we can we provide Music That Moves your brand strategy forward. (by Shachar Oren, Neurotic Media CEO).

An end to new music?

Back in the 70’s, when I was around the age of 10 or 12, I remember hearing a story on the news that we would soon be reaching a point where no new music would be composed. Supposedly, an “expert” had way too much time on his hands, got out his calculator, and boldly determined that every possible combination of notes and words would be achieved in the near future. 

Gary EatonFor a kid that was moved by music early on and started his first band in the 6th grade, this was horrible news. I was crushed… devastated actually. Was I seriously going to be stuck listening to the same music over and over again for the rest of my life? Would I have a chance to write a decent song before we ran out of notes and words?

Seems rather silly now – and I’m wondering if this “expert” ever retracted his prediction. But it goes to show how important music is to many of us, how deeply it moves us, especially during our formative years.

Not too long ago, I saw research that claimed that by the time the majority of adults reach age 40, their listening habits primarily consist of songs and artists they already know.  So, the expert was wrong – but for a large segment of people, his prediction still came true. Ironic, isn’t it?! Well, when we reach 40, we’re often just too busy to discover new music.  This has historically been a huge challenge for the music industry (informing established fans of established artists’ new releases). However, technology provides us with many great solutions for this challenge. People can discover new music that moves them using Recommendation Engines.  We here at Neurotic Media use our database of millions of transactions to recommend what similar shoppers liked – i.e. “other people who like this also purchased the following…”.

There’s no shortage of good new music that moves people, emotions and actions. Keep listening. Keep discovering. (By Gary Eaton, Neurotic Media VP of Sales).

Steve Jobs

The announcement came yesterday. Steve Jobs retired. 

I still have the first iPod that I ever bought.  It’s a big, old 30gb early generation version – and you know what?  It changed my life. I have to admit, I was initially resistant to making the transition, but that didn’t last long. I already had a huge music collection – literally thousands of CD’s. After I bought my iPod, I spent enormous chunks of time ripping my collection into iTunes. Having access to an enormous collection of music everywhere I went was, and still is an absolute joy. 

It’s easy to take for granted the impact that Apple has had on pop culture and society at large. iPods and iTunes have become so much a part of the landscape that we don’t even notice them anymore. 

Steve Jobs and Apple changed the world, turned industries upside down and delivered products that were easy and fun to use. Thank you for your leadership, vision, innovation and inspiration Mr. Jobs. My world – and so many others is a better place because of you. (Gary Eaton, Neurotic Media VP of Sales)

Goodbye Hot Milk and Warm Eggs!

Shachar Oren as KidHot milk and warm eggs. Yuck… When I was five, my Mom went through this phase of feeding me that for dinner. And at that period, my Dad was listening to Elton John’s music. And as a result, every time I hear “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” I am immediately reminded of hot milk and warm eggs – I get this flashback to the imagery and the flavor. Don’t get me wrong, I love the song otherwise! But it always reminds me of a crusting glass of hot milk. Well hey, food for champions, I am 6’4” after all so maybe Mom was on to something… You can check out the song here: http://bit.ly/qp5kFR. (Shachar Oren, Neurotic Media CEO).

Is the future of music in the clouds?

Shachar Oren’s article was originally posted here: http://www.musicthinktank.com/blog/is-the-future-of-music-in-the-clouds.html

Every year there’s a rush in the music marketplace after one trend or another, and in the past year it’s been cloud services and the concept of ‘music as water’ subscription services.  While the notion of selling music subscription like cable TV may be appealing at first glance, it is proving hard to monetize on for both the companies that launch such services and the content owners who participate in them. There are several reasons why I have always been very skeptical about the future of all-you-can-eat subscription services and cloud service models:

First, consumers don’t consume music like they do TV programs. On TV you are likely to watch a show or a movie once. When you really like a song or an album, you want them with you for a long period of time and for repeated use – potentially for life. Indeed, look at the past decade of digital music sales: The mass market is buying and downloading music ala carte. Subscription services have found it very hard to climb into seven figure subscriber bases – sure, recurring revenues from 700,00+ subscribers are nice, but if after ten years you can’t move the needle much higher, then the market is telling you something.

Second, the complex offering model that subscription services offer makes them harder to sell: The consumer has to understand various DRM rules and deal with their implications. Additionally, the consumer has to deal with a lifetime commitment issues – after months of working their way thru a catalog of streams, if they decide to discontinue the subscription or switch services, they lose all their work, all their cached playlists and repositories. Also, the market still can’t offer consumers reliable connectivity on the go – even with pre-caching, it’s not a perfect picture. All these elements combined have rendered subscription services a niche that is best suited for tech-savvy taste makers (Pandora is different because it is more akin to Radio than to ownership-type consumption).

Enter cloud services… in a world where one can back up an entire hard drive – music, movies, e-mails, pictures, documents, programs – onto affordable backup/restore services such as Mozy, Apple, Google, Microsoft, etc., will there really be room for dedicated music-specific cloud services for additional money? Sure, there are some bells and whistles that Amazon, mSpot and others are adding to create unique value for the music user, but is that enough to drive a mass market adoption for such content-specific concepts? And will consumers pay for more than one account? Or just choose one major backup hub (Google, Microsoft, Apple), park their entire PC on it (including music), and be done?

The last frontier in this battle for a winning “all you can eat” music offering is the speed in which affordable storage space is increasing. Imagine a world in which you can purchase a 100TB storage chip for your smart phone (and PC) storage card slot.  Imagine a world where this card can either come pre-loaded with all the music you could care about, or you could load it up w/ critical catalogs, by genres, from many Bit Torrent sites for free. When this becomes reality in a handful of years, how appealing would it be for the consumer to pay for a music subscription service or a music-specific cloud storage service? If music in the clouds is free AND easy to grab in bulk, how can music cloud services be monetized on?

An affordable, large solid-state memory market may beat 4G+ networks to the punch in providing consumers an ideal way to access all the music they want on the go. This will re-focus consumer services on the new music “discovery” market (like Pandora) – this is the section of the market that will represent opportunity moving forward. In a market where access PLUS ownership becomes even easier, ubiquitous and affordable (or free), the industry should focus on building value around new releases – focus on the quality of new releases and the packaging that comes with them. This means an ongoing, strong a la carte business, avoiding the inclusion of hot new releases in cheap subscription and cloud services that devalue them. And indeed, this future spells trouble for those in the catalog business. The catalog business may not exist within a decade…

So, where does this leave the music industry? The progress made this week by content owners partnering with ISPs to prevent illegal downloads should be just the tip of the iceberg. The industry should now move to capture revenues from the “new distribution routes” of content – the disruptive companies that replaced the traditional physical mediums of distribution: Chip manufacturers and device manufacturers. If each device and storage system was taxed to compensate for the abuse it helps create – taxed in similar fashion to how content owners for years have been compensated from the sales of blank media such as cassette tapes and CD-Rs – then a strong multi-billion revenue stream should emerge, compensating right owners for the loss of control over pre-existing catalog sales. It would only take a handful of dollars from each $299 smart phone sold or any other computer. It would make little impact on the electronics industry – but would save the music industry.