Corporate Buy Outs and the Decline of Teen Jive

Sam Cooke was right. No matter how long it may take, change does come.

Last week, Clive Calder of Jive Records and Zomba Music forced Jive’s distributor, BMG Music, to buy his company for $3 billion. Even though it has plenty of cash, BMG didn’t really want Jive, which specializes in teen appeal acts (Britney Spears, ‘N Sync,, etc.) Over the past year, the company’s business is off significantly–from almost 7% of the market in 2000 to a little more than 3% now. As a stock analyst told the N.Y. Times, “You could buy the EMI Group right now for about that.”

But it wasn’t a need for cash that made Calder want to deal. Market share for teen acts is plummeting like dotcom share prices. That may mean that the market is shifting away from teen jive, though it’s hard to compare this cycle to the past. Clear Channel, which has a Top 40 monopoly, has a huge stake in teen appeal. But otherwise, the signs of a shift is there.

Record buyers have complained, with justification, about CD prices since the format’s launch. Catalog prices, at least, are falling now. The new industry standard-set by Sony and Universal a few months ago, with BMG following suit recently–seems to be $11.98, which as a practical matter means about $10 at discount stores or on the Internet.

It’s easy to see why this happened, too. Billboard shows “deep catalog” sales, by far the most consistently profitable kind, off almost 5% this year, while more recent catalog is off 6%.

Labels shout and scream that this is all the fault of the Internet. Well, no album this year got downloaded like The Eminem Show which it sold 284,000 its first weekend plus more than a million in its first full week, peak numbers for the year. Although label execs refuse to recognize it, Internet downloading most resembles not a B&E job but the way people used radio before the government gave Clear Channel its monopoly.

If I told you that I found my favorite harbinger of change in Ed Christman’s report that label execs are not being offered lavish new contracts, it’d make me look mean. It would also be a lie.

My actual favorite was Rolling Stone hiring an editor who believes “people don’t have time to sit down and read.” This pleases me because because it will kill off any remaining illusion that Rolling Stone has even a vague musical expertise. Also, if the magazine’s sales continue to decline, they won’t be able to blame those of us who used to write “7000 word stories” as they have for the past 25 years.

New editor Eric Needham provides a treble delight when he says, “All the great media adventures of the 20th century have been visual. Television, movies, the Internet, they’re all visual mediums.” First, Needham reveals that he doesn’t know the plural of medium. Then, he all but admits that he has to be read aloud to (otherwise he would recognize text as a visual medium). Finally, in the age of Napster, he’s decided that the Internet is a visual medium.

Pity Rolling Stone’s poor music editors. There’s no change there, of course.


(what’s playing in my office)

1. Try Again, Mike Ireland and Holler (Ashmont) (After about three listens you realize that Ireland, the best new honkytonker, has kicked it into another gear by adding elements from his roots rock days in the Starkweathers.)

2. Human Being Lawnmower: The Baddest & Maddest of the MC5 (Total Energy)

3. 1000 Kisses, Patty Griffin (ATO)

4. The Eminem Show, Eminem (Interscope)

5. Masquerade, Wyclef Jean (Columbia)

6. “It’s Been A Change,” Buddy Miller (from Rhino’s otherwise appalling Rockin’ Patriots)

7. Halos and Horns, Dolly Parton (Sugar Hill)

8.You’re Gonna Need That Pure Religion, Rev. Pearly Brown (Arhoolie) 9. By the Hand of the Father, Alejandro Escovedo (Texas Music Group)

10. Tonight at Johnny’s Speakeasy, Jo Serrapere & the Willie Dunns (Detroit Radio Co.)

11. Daddy’s Home: The Very Best of Shep and the Limelites (Collectables)

12. Gravity, Alejandro Escovedo (Texas Music Group)

13. Return of a Legend, Jody Williams (Evidence)

14. “I Won’t Let Go,” Dorothy Love and “Walk On and Talk On,” Brother Joe May (from Creed Gospel Classics, Vol. 5, AVI)

15. Veni, Vidi, Vicious, The Hives (Sire/Burning Heart/Epitaph)

Dave Marsh coedits Rock and Rap Confidential. He can be reached at: marsh6@optonline.net

Dave Marsh’s Previous DeskScan Top 10 Lists:

June 12, 2002

June 4, 2002

May 27, 2002

May 20, 2002

May 14, 2002

May 6, 2002

April 30, 2002

April 22, 2002

April 15, 2002

April 9, 2002

April 2, 2002

March 25, 2002

March 18, 2002

March 11, 2002


More articles by:

Dave Marsh edits Rock & Rap Confidential, one of CounterPunch’s favorite newsletters, now available for free by emailing: rockrap@aol.com. Dave blogs at http://davemarsh.us/

March 19, 2018
Henry Heller
The Moment of Trump
John Davis
Pristine Buildings, Tarnished Architect
Uri Avnery
The Fake Enemy
Patrick Cockburn
The Fall of Afrin and the Next Phase of the Syrian War
Nick Pemberton
The Democrats Can’t Save Us
Nomi Prins 
Jared Kushner, RIP: a Political Obituary for the President’s Son-in-Law
Georgina Downs
The Double Standards and Hypocrisy of the UK Government Over the ‘Nerve Agent’ Spy Poisoning
Dean Baker
Trump and the Federal Reserve
Colin Todhunter
The Strategy of Tension Towards Russia and the Push to Nuclear War
Kevin Zeese - Margaret Flowers
US Empire on Decline
Ralph Nader
Ahoy America, Give Trump a Taste of His Own Medicine Starting on Trump Imitation Day
Robert Dodge
Eliminate Nuclear Weapons by Divesting from Them
Laura Finley
Shame on You, Katy Perry
Weekend Edition
March 16, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Michael Uhl
The Tip of the Iceberg: My Lai Fifty Years On
Bruce E. Levine
School Shootings: Who to Listen to Instead of Mainstream Shrinks
Mel Goodman
Caveat Emptor: MSNBC and CNN Use CIA Apologists for False Commentary
Paul Street
The Obama Presidency Gets Some Early High Historiography
Kathy Deacon
Me, My Parents and Red Scares Long Gone
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Rexless Abandon
Andrew Levine
Good Enemies Are Hard To Find: Therefore Worry
Jim Kavanagh
What to Expect From a Trump / Kim Summit
Ron Jacobs
Trump and His Tariffs
Joshua Frank
Drenched in Crude: It’s an Oil Free For All, But That’s Not a New Thing
Gary Leupp
What If There Was No Collusion?
Matthew Stevenson
Why Vietnam Still Matters: Bernard Fall Dies on the Street Without Joy
Robert Fantina
Bad to Worse: Tillerson, Pompeo and Haspel
Brian Cloughley
Be Prepared, Iran, Because They Want to Destroy You
Richard Moser
What is Organizing?
Scott McLarty
Working Americans Need Independent Politics
Rohullah Naderi
American Gun Violence From an Afghan Perspective
Sharmini Peries - Michael Hudson
Why Trump’s Tariff Travesty Will Not Re-Industrialize the US
Ted Rall
Democrats Should Run on Impeachment
Robert Fisk
Will We Ever See Al Jazeera’s Investigation Into the Israel Lobby?
Kristine Mattis
Superunknown: Scientific Integrity Within the Academic and Media Industrial Complexes
John W. Whitehead
Say No to “Hardening” the Schools with Zero Tolerance Policies and Gun-Toting Cops
Edward Hunt
UN: US Attack On Syrian Civilians Violated International Law
Barbara Nimri Aziz
Iraq Outside History
Wilfred Burchett
Vietnam Will Win: The Long Hard Road
Victor Grossman
Germany: New Faces, Old Policies
Medea Benjamin - Nicolas J. S. Davies
The Iraq Death Toll 15 Years After the US Invasion
Binoy Kampmark
Amazon’s Initiative: Digital Assistants, Home Surveillance and Data
Chuck Collins
Business Leaders Agree: Inequality Hurts The Bottom Line
Jill Richardson
What We Talk About When We Talk About “Free Trade”
Eric Lerner – Jay Arena
A Spark to a Wider Fire: Movement Against Immigrant Detention in New Jersey
Negin Owliaei
Teachers Deserve a Raise: Here’s How to Fund It