The Record Business Needs A Flu Shot

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This is Celia Hirschman with On the Beat for KCRW.

Now that the election is finally over, the record business needs to get a flu shot. Why? It-s been a brutal couple of years for most in the business and resources have been depleted. We underestimated how consumers felt about digital downloading and when we finally got on track with it, the headlines moved on to the problems of global piracy. In the wake of that reality, record labels across the world severely cut their staffs to meet the down-trend in sales. Then, there was Janet Jackson-s incident. The half time fiasco may have turned the country on its ear, but most in the music business turned a blind eye. We chose not to listen. We zoomed passed the warning signs and headed straight into denial.

Of course, the cost of our ignorance was arrogance. In the wake of the Presidential election, never is that more in evidence.

In fact, the music business is having a hard time reading where the country really is right now.

Stardust...The Great American Songbook Consider this, Rod Stewart just had his first #1 record in 25 years. Ray Charles has two records in the Top 10, and Michael McDonald, the ex-lead singer from the 70-s band, The Doobie Brothers clocks in at #9. These are not adventurous times in the musical history of America.

So, we really do need that shot in the arm. Something to help bring us back into a groove we can grow with. In the next couple of weeks, two blockbuster albums will be coming this way, and many in the music business holding their breath. There-s a lot at stake here.

On top of that, kick starting a record in today-s multi media climate is just not like it used to be. It takes round the clock care, with planes, trains, automobiles and servers to deliver the goods. Forget about sex, drugs and rock n roll.

Now, artists must stay focused and on message to penetrate the consciousness of the American youth. Be grateful. These guys are working hard for your dollar.

Next week, Eminem-s new album will hit the street. He-s already sold over 50 million records worldwide, so this will be a good test of his continuing endurance--and he-s ready for it. He-s primed the pumps. His single and video are out and on the airwaves. On top of that, he-s made an underground video about American politics, which is everywhere on the internet. Then there-s the obligatory guest appearance on Saturday Night Live. And Eminem has built his own desktop program, to drop new videos into the hard drives of his loyal fans weekly. In short, he-s become his own marketing machine.

But that-s nothing compared to the marketing planned for the new U2 album, due in stores November 23. If you missed the hundreds of Itunes television spots, with their latest single, you can pick up one of their special black iPods available at

U2 is planning an appearance on Saturday Night Live, and viewers can hear parts of the new album woven into the story lines of TV shows CSI, and The OC.

Both Eminem and U2 are planning deluxe versions of their new albums, available at street date and just in time for the Christmas rush. This is exactly what the music business needs to bring the Holiday gift giving season into focus, and may I say, it-s not a minute too soon.

This is Celia Hirschman with On the Beat for KCRW.