• 8 Hours – 8 Songs?

    Board2What happens when you gather 4 ultra-creative artists into a college music studio for 8 hours?  Well, the plan is to write and record 8 songs, then perform them live the next day.

    Musicians Ben Folds, Damian Kulash of OK Go and Amanda Palmer, solo artist and former singer for The Dresden Dolls, plan to lock themselves in a studio at the Berklee College of Music with award winning author Neil Gaiman.  The session will be broadcast online and the music will be performed live at one of the sessions the next day during the Rethink Music Conference in Boston, and released via Bandcamp.com.  Proceeds from the first week of downloads will be donated to Berklee City Music, an organization linked to Berklee College of Music that provides age appropriate music education for underprivileged youth.

    If you have read Bruce’s “Blogging the Archives,” you will know that once upon a time, 8 songs in three hours was not a big deal, but those artists weren’t writing the songs, they were only recording.  Today it can take months and even years to get an album produced.  Folds, Kulash, Palmer and Gaiman have their work cut out for them, but we wish them the best.  As our Heart & Soul Foundation attests, we at Muzak are passionate about helping keep music education healthy.  And with this group of artists, I can’t wait to buy the CD.

    The 3 day Rethink Music Conference, held April 25th-27th, will also tackle hard questions about copyright law, fostering art in a technologically changing world, and the music business in an internet centered world.

  • The Numbers are Staggering

    Muzak Home Office

    As most of you have heard, Mood Media, a Canadian based, international business media company, is in the process of acquiring Muzak.  I took a little time this weekend to go over the numbers created by the combination of our two companies, and they are staggering.  Muzak already has the largest footprint in the US.  Now our combined presence internationally is amazing.

    Let’s explore some of those numbers (estimated):

    Muzak now Mood Media & Muzak after closing
    300,000 locations served 500,000 locations served
    7 country footprint 39 country footprint
    500 brands serviced 850 brands serviced
    $250 million in revenue $400 million in revenue
    $60 million in EBITDA $100 million in EBITDA
    2.9 million music tracks in library 4.5 million music tracks in library
    870,000 licensed music tracks 1.7 million licensed music tracks
    20,000 original recordings 30,000 original recordings

    The news marks a significant upcoming milestone in our 77 year history here at Muzak.  Our Fort Mill Home Office is buzzing because of the potential opportunities this brings to the company and its employees.  We still have a month or two before closing, but the excitement is real today.

    Click HERE to see Muzak’s official Press Release.

    Contributed by Bruce McKagan, Company Communication, Heart & Soul Foundation

  • Did You Hear the News?

    Image courtesy Brandon Schauf

    So what’s happening at Muzak you ask?  You’ve probably seen the headlines…

    March 24, 2010 (Charlotte, NC)—Muzak Holdings LLC (“Muzak”), a premier provider of music, messaging and video for business, today confirmed that it has entered into a definitive agreement to be acquired by Mood Media Corporation (TSX:MM/ LSE AIM:MM), a leading in-store media specialist, for an enterprise value of up to approximately US$345 million.

    Yes, BIG news for Muzak and for our industry.  But what does it all mean?

    Since 1934, Muzak has been owned by a multitude of companies.   Initially the concept of Muzak was financed by the utility and telephone conglomerate, North American Company.  They had the music distribution vehicle (electric and phone lines), so it made sense.  In the late ‘30s Warner Brothers purchased Muzak because of their need for a movie soundtrack library.  William Benton, a marketing mega star, senator, founder of the Encyclopedia Britannica and visionary for Voice of America, owned Muzak from the early ‘40s thru 1957. He saw Muzak as a vehicle to offer communications solutions worldwide.  Muzak’s support of WWII both internationally and in the US delivered on Benton’s vision, as our growth continued.

    The Wrather Corp. purchased Muzak in 1957, followed by Teleprompter in 1972, then Westinghouse in the early ‘80s.

    Since the mid ‘80s, Muzak has been under the ownership of a series of financial institutions, including The Field Corporation, Centre Partners, ABRY Partners, and most recently Silver Point Capital.

    The pending acquisition of Muzak by Mood Media signals a huge change for us.  After 25 years of control by financial institutions, we will become part of a company that shares our passion to expand the business that we have loved for 77 years.

    Contributed by Bruce McKagan, Company Communication, Heart & Soul Foundation

    If you missed the Press Release it is available HERE on our website.

  • Hangin’ with Duff

    Duff McKagan at SXSW

    Duff McKagan at SXSW

    Last week, at SXSW in Austin, I had the opportunity to hang with my youngest brother Duff McKagan for the good part of two days.  Usually we get together at family gatherings or in the safe confines of one of our homes.  But this was SXSW, a showcase of musical talent from across the world.  This is the center of Duff’s universe.  It continues to amaze me the celebrity my brother still has.  Everywhere he goes, people gawk, point, ask for autographs and pictures or just yell out, “Hey Duff.”  He always responds with a smile.  He’s simply a nice, sociable guy who appreciates his role. Coming from a family of eight, it comes with the territory… except for the celeb part… that’s all his!  The toll this takes on his time however is significant.  His entire day is planned around where he goes, how he gets there and the time it will take, factoring in the hundreds of mini-stops along the way.

    But the remarkable thing is the genuine excitement and thrill shown by his fans just because of a simple smile or a “hi.”  Duff is like George of the Beatles.  Not the main figure like Axle or Slash or Paul or John, but beloved and recognized by all.

    It’s been a long time since G N’ R last hit the stage, but the mystique lives on.  Duff has covered a lot of ground since then, including sobriety, marriage, two girls, business school, Velvet Revolver, columnist for Playboy, Seattle Weekly and ESPN.com, his own band “Loaded”, an upcoming autobiography, a new financial business venture, plus TV appearances with his wife Susan on E channel’s “Married to Rock.”  He’s as fit as a fiddle: an avid kick-boxer, cyclist and gym rat, and he loves his big new toy – thanks to his friends at Harley Davidson.

    At the end of the day, Duff lives his life pretty much like the rest of us: picking up kids from school, then laundry at the cleaners, going to the movies with the family, or wondering if the Mariners pitching staff is going to get the job done this year.  He lives in LA most of the year and in Seattle during the summer months, both in neighborhoods with great neighbors and friends.  Most of the McKagan family lives in Seattle, except for me (Charlotte area) and our second youngest brother Matt (a middle school music teacher in the San Fernando Valley), so his ties to Seattle continue to be an important part of his life.

    But at SXSW, as with everywhere Duff ventures into the public eye, his life seems to dramatically change… sort of.  In the middle of about 50 admiring fans, as he’s signing autographs and shaking hands he turns to me and says, “Whadya think about the new first baseman for the Mariners?”

    Contributed by Bruce McKagan

    Muzak Company Communications

  • Bottling Daft Punk

    Daft Coke

    Daft Coke

    The world loves Daft Punk and Coca-Cola is the latest brand tying into that love. Hypebeast announced Wednesday that Coke will be releasing Limited Edition “Club Coke” Bottles featuring two bottles in Daft Punk helmet colors. Disney recently used Daft Punk to help sell TRON: Legacy – after all, what is a tech story without great electronic music?

    Here at Muzak we live on the power that music has to enhance brands. We’ve used the power of Daft Punk since way back when I was an engineer. So far this year we’ve used their music in a plethora of custom music programs and are leaning on them to help deliver both pop and underground dance vibes to our Groove Zone, Frequency, and Strobe programs. How much does Muzak love Daft Punk? As much as we love putting the right music in an environment and seeing both the environment and the musician benefit from it.

    Daft Coke is expected to be released in Paris in March and is sure to be as big a hit as “Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger”.

  • Backstage with Slash

    Slash and Chris Williams

    Slash and Chris Williams

    Last Thursday night I joined several Muzakers as Slash hit Charlotte.  He rocked a packed Fillmore for more than 2 hours – showcasing several of his own releases and a few Velvet Revolver goodies, like “Slither”.  Then he brought the house down with several G&R classics – “Mr. Brownstone”, “Civil War”, “Night Train”, “My Michelle”, “Sweet Child o’ Mine” and “Paradise City”.

    The band sounded great and vocalist Miles Kennedy had no problem hitting the Axel Rose high notes.  Slash was amazing, as usual, delivering the right combo of technique, talent and pure presence . . . the best in the business in my book.  Add to that, Slash’s band was not only tight, but seemed to really enjoy playing together for their Charlotte fans.

    I was able to get a few backstage passes after the show (my brother is Duff from G&R;  I’ve known Slash for many, many years).  So Josh Clewley, Jeff Dowd, Chris Williams and I joined Slash and his bandmates after the gig.  No more wild parties, all nighters or hot babes like the old days.  Now, it’s just a few guys hangin’ out, talkin’ music, family and friends.  Slash is one of the nicest guys in the business.

    We were joined by Brad Whitford from Aerosmith, who resides in Lake Wylie and performed with Slash earlier that night, playing lead on the early rock classic “Walkin’ the Dog”.  We took some pictures, told some stories, had a few laughs, shared some hugs and wished each other well until the next time.

    Right before we left, Slash asked Chris Williams (Muzak EVP of Media) what he did at Muzak.  Chris’ answer was direct, with a smile.  “I find ways to make you lots of money.”  Slash smiled right on back.

    Contributed by Bruce McKagan

  • Mix It Up

    il_570xN.198241621-1

    This cute key chain plushy is the perfect gift for the Deadmau5 fan in your life.

    From Soymujer

    http://www.etsy.com/listing/59493513/deadmau5-keychain-plushie-or-ornament?ref=sr_gallery_3&ga_search_query=music&ga_search_type=handmade

  • For Music Writers

    il_570xN.204118739There’s no shortage of creativity on Etsy, but this authentic vintage necklace re-purposes charming antiques into a great new accessory.

    A snippet of vintage sheet music is preserved under the glass of an authentic antique typewriter key. A great conversation piece and a meaningful gift for the musician / writer in your life.

    From busterandboo.

    See it here: http://www.etsy.com/listing/64884434/typewriter-key-necklacependant-vintage?ref=sr_gallery_30&ga_search_query=music&ga_search_type=handmade&ga_page=&order=&includes[0]=tags&includes[1]=title&filter[0]=handmade

  • How Not to Avoid Arrest

    lots-of-loudspeakers

    A man in Hamilton, New Jersey had a novel idea–but not one that we would suggest you try.

    On January 8th, the man’s cousin called her local police department to report that he was causing a disturbance and would not leave her home.

    According to the Lieutenant on the scene, when the police arrived, the man locked himself inside of his car and turned the volume of his sterio system up all the way so that he couldn’t ‘hear’ the police. The police asked the man to turn his music down and exit the vehicle several times, until they eventually had to break one of the car’s windows.

    While I am not a lawyer, I’m guessing “I can’t heaaarrrrrr youuuuuu!” is NOT going to pan out as a valid legal defense.

  • Yes, You Can be ‘Addicted’ to Music

    84877568I think this recent study explains a lot about a certain kind of person that we all know: they’re not just music fans, they flat-out can’t live without it. They can’t travel or can’t function. Some claim they can’t get their work done, can’t concentrate or can’t fall asleep without one of their favorite albums playing.

    Not that any of this is a bad thing, mind you. But chances are, if you acted this way about anything else in life, you’d probably be spending some time in rehab.

    Now, new research is shedding light on the reasons behind why music can cause this behavior and why it has been such a constant force throughout human history. (Think about it: every culture, no matter how different, has developed their own unique sound and integrated that music into important events, to mark special occasions or to just have fun.)

    The link is a feel-good chemical produced by the brain called dopamine. Also linked to motivation, addiction and thrill seeking behaviors, researchers have concluded that a rush of dopamine is released not only when participants listened to their favorite song, but also just prior to that song beginning. So even the mere anticipation of music is enough to trigger a rush of this powerful hormone.

    So the next time one of your favorite songs gives you chills or you break your budget on front row seats to see your favorite act, you can blame (or thank) dopamine.

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