I watched a lot of basketball in my lost decade, from the day my ex moved out until the Internet came along and rescued me.
You’ve got to understand, the Lakers are L.A. religion. Till he blew himself up, both literally and figuratively, Kobe Bryant was the most powerful and popular person in Los Angeles. The movers and shakers came to him, not vice versa.
But I stopped paying attention.
It wasn’t the move to Staples Center so much as the retirement of Michael Jordan. I’d seen the best, did I really have to waste so much time thereafter?
It’s really about the playoffs. You start watching sometime in April and you don’t emerge from the darkness until June. And sure, there’s a bunch of garbage time during the regular season, but the closer you get to the end, the harder it is to tune out, you never know when Reggie Miller will be a thorn in your side.
But that was years ago. I’m aware of LeBron, but I wanted my life back. I stopped paying attention.
Last Friday night I went to my first game…in Staples Center. I pulled my car up to valet parking, for $200 a pop, and ran into a new friend on the way in. I never pegged him as a roundball fan, but he revealed he had courtside seats!
And on Saturday, he e-mailed me, did I want them?
But let’s get back to Friday. Sitting in the box of a household name entertainer, I was so far from the action that I stayed engaged in conversation, getting details, as to the six figure cost of this space.
Yes, major league sporting events are not for the poor. Not in person. That’s why they’re televised. In truth, it’s just like the days of yore, the Roman Colosseum, it’s entertainment for the rich.
And last night I experienced it.
Turns out if you buy a floor seat, you get a discount on valet parking, it’s $130 a pop.
But the people sitting alongside me can afford it. People like Jeffrey Katzenberg, Joel Silver…
As for the TV stars, I doubt they own their seats. I figure the studio gave Christopher Meloni his. And Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis theirs.
And they weren’t as good as ours.
You’re immediately separated from the riff-raff. You take an elevator into the bowels of the arena where your ticket is checked numerous times, the security is as tight as the White House, and then…
You emerge onto the floor.
That’s the most amazing thing about it. Your feet are right on the wood. Your chair is on the rubber covering the ice, you can feel the cold.
So, these giants are pushing the ball around, warming up. And that’s what they are, so tall you realize the barrier to entry is height, and no mere mortal is gonna make it.
And then there’s the infrastructure. The scout sitting nearby, a woman with a Spalding notebook featuring the same skin as the ball. And the TV commentator with heels higher than she. And Stu Lantz in his suit… I’ve been around famous people, but sports are different. It’s more…everybody.
So the game begins. And the Lakers fall behind almost instantly. After all, they’re in last place.
But the Pelicans are not much better. Still, they pull ahead by double digits.
So I’m studying the Laker Girls, all of whom appear to be illegal. And in perfect shape. Not ultra-skinny, like the movie stars, but healthy, athletic. All smiling with too much makeup I couldn’t help but wonder if this was the peak of their life, where they went from here.
And we were so close you couldn’t read the scoreboard. That’s right, we were part of the set, we were on TV.
So we hit halftime and Guy Oseary gets up to talk to Ashton and Mila, like they’re all friends, like they all went to high school together.
And then Mila comes over to make nice with Jeffrey, who’s finished his McDonald’s and is yet to delve into his candied apple.
And I’m eating chicken tenders, taking it all in.
And then the game heats up. The Lakers come within four after being down by five times that number.
It’s palpable. The vibe in the building has changed. People are standing. The guy behind us is trash-talking. The game has tightened up.
And it’s then that I think of Bob Costas’s quote, that sports are a metaphor for life.
This is not ski racing, or car racing, or so many other sports wherein equipment is key. This is just about sneakers and socks, basketball is pure.
And I’m thinking how most of these players will be done long before forty, their glory behind them, as well as the lease payments on their fancy cars, with no ring to evidence a championship.
But for this one extended moment, we’re all in it together. We don’t know how it turns out. We’ve got no edge. We’re subject to the vagaries of life, the bounce of the ball, the traction of our shoes…
And you could say it was disappointing.
But not really. The thrill was more palpable than any amusement park ride. Because this wasn’t manufactured, but life.
Was it worth $2,750 a ticket?
You can decide.
Meanwhile, I’m waiting for Frank Robinson to clear the way so they can pull up my car and I can jet away before most people have located their rides.
Following the Detroit race riots and tragic assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in the late-1960s, Coca-Cola Chairman and CEO Robert Woodruff and his marketing leadership team decided it was time to do something the company had never done before: feature African-Americans and whites together in Coca-Cola advertising.
In 1969, photographer Jay Maisel captured a group of black and white boys in New York City. In the iconic shot, which Coke used in print and TV ads in the years that followed, the teens are relaxed and happy. They’re sitting on a city bench, sharing a fun, lighthearted moment over a Coke.
Looks innocent, doesn’t it?
When you take a closer look at the photo, you see that the boys are sitting on a segregation bench. Coke mixed things up and tackled taboo head-on. The boys are sitting shoulder to shoulder, with their arms touching across the segregation bar. The ad known simply as “Boys on a Bench” was — and still is — a powerful brand statement about togetherness and inclusion.
Cannes Lions, June 2013
When you work in marketing at Coke, you’re spoiled for choice in terms of favorite pieces of work. And my mum, who has five sons, brought us all up to avoid favoritism. But of all the brilliant content Coca-Cola has produced over the years, this is without a shadow of a doubt my favorite ad from our history.
Last summer at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, where Coca-Cola was named Creative Marketer of the Year, my colleague Ivan Pollard and I proudly wore t-shirts bearing this image onstage during our keynote presentation. The same photo can be found on the back of my business card and in my e-mail signature.
At Coke, we talk a lot about producing #workthatmatters — storytelling with a social purpose that reflects our flagship brand’s relentlessly optimistic point of view and commitment to building a better world. This legacy, which predates “Boys on a Bench,” lives on in our creative communications.
Jonathan Mildenhall is senior vice president of integrated marketing content and design excellence for Coca-Cola North America
Nike SB Dunk High Pro Black/University Red-Medium Grey
New from Nike’s skateboarding camp comes an athletic take on the Dunk High Pro silhouette. The high-rising skateboarding sneaker is found here executed with black leather at the forefoot through the laceloops and heel counter. These colors are contrasted with neutral ‘medium grey’ plush at the sides and accented with a stark red Swoosh at the middle. All of these features rest atop a clean white midsole and gum outsole – perfectly grippy for skating, yet notably protective (courtesy of the hallmark Zoom Air insert). This version of the Dunk High Pro is available at retailers such as Titolo, priced here €91 EUR (approximately $124 USD).
While the digital track sales decline had been expected due to weaker sales in the first three quarters, the digital album downturn comes as more of a surprise as the album bundle had started out the year with a strong first quarter.
Overall for the full year 2013, digital track sales fell 5.7% from 1.34 billion units to 1.26 billion units while digital album sales fell 0.1% to 117.6 million units from the previous year’s total of 117.7 million, according to Nielsen SoundScan.
While industry executives initially refused to attribute the early signs this year of digital sales weakness to the consumer’s growing appetite for streaming, in the second half of the year many were conceding that ad-supported and paid subscription services were indeed cannibalizing digital sales.
While SoundScan has not yet released its annual streaming numbers numbers, so far industry executives have been reporting that the growth in streaming revenue has been offsetting the decline in digital sales revenue.
Overall, album sales suffered an 8.4% decline, dipping to 289.4 million units from nearly 316 million units in 2012. The CD declined 14.5% to 165.4 million units, down from 193.4 million in the prior year, while vinyl continued its ascension rising to 6 million units from the 4.55 million the format tallied in 2012. That means vinyl is now 2% of album sales in the U.S; digital albums comprise 40.6% and the CD is 57.2% and cassettes and DVDs 0.2%.
Meanwhile, album plus track equivalent albums fell to 415.3 million units, down from 449.5 million units in 2012, which represents a 7.6% drop.
Despite the decline in album sales, million sellers increased in 2013 to 13 titles versus the 10 that passed that milestone the prior year when Adele’s “21” led the way with 4.4 million units followed by Taylor’s Swift;s “Red,” which scanned 3.1 million units. In 2013, only one album sold more than one million units, Justin Timberlake’s 20/20 Experience, with 2.4 million units.
The top selling track in 2013 was Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines,” featuring T.I. & Pharrell, which scanned nearly 6.5 million units, followed by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis’ “Thrift Shop,” featuring Wanz with 6.1 million units and Imagine Dragon’s “Radioactive” with 5.5 million units. Gotye’s “Somebody That I Used To Know” featuring Kimbra was the top selling digital song with 6.8 million units the prior year.
In 2013, 106 songs hit million units mark, versus 108 titles that achieved that feat in 2012.
Moving over to market share, the Universal Music Group came in first with 38.9% in albums plus TEA, thanks to its acquisition of the Capitol Music Group, while Sony Music Entertainment finished with 29.5%, and the Warner Music Group tallied 18.7%. While these market share totals are by distribution ownership, where indie labels collectively are calculated as having a 12.3% share, next week’s Billboard will also show market share by label ownership where the indies are expected to have nearly 35% market share.
Moving over to genres, R&B which includes rap was the only genre to post an increase in 2013, with album sales growing 1.2% to 50.7 million from 50.1 million units in 2012, which all things considered is pretty impressive in a year where album sales declined 8.4%. The only other genres to outperform the U.S. album market were EDM, which declined 0.3% to 8.8 million units; and rock, down 5.9% for the year to 100.8 million units.
Despite the decline in digital album sales, download stores like iTunes gained market share growing to 40.6% of U.S album sales, while mass merchants like Target and Walmart saw sales drop 16.3% to about 78 million units and now comprise nearly 27% market share; with chain stores like Best Buy and Trans World seeing sales decline by nearly 20% to 39 million album units to comprise 13.5% market share.
Meanwhile non-traditional CD merchants like Amazon, Starbucks and concert venues saw album sales increase by 2.4% to 36.5 million units; and indie merchants dropped by nearly 12% to 18.3 million units. Respectively, the former comprises 12.6% of album sales while the latter accounts for 6.3%.
Where Indie Artists Are Making Most of Their Money (From the Magazine)
Independent artists have never had access to so many customers. A single distributor can get an artist’s music into digital services around the world. U.S. artists were getting Spotify royalties before the service was available stateside. Now they’re getting royalties from Deezer, Bloom.fm and other services not yet available in the States. Since distributors have added their catalogs to YouTube, independent artists can reach listeners through the world’s most popular video service.
Access to consumers has meant hundreds of millions in revenue through the years. CD Baby has paid out more than $300 million since it was founded in 1998. TuneCore has paid out more than $330 million since it launched in 2006. This year, CD Baby expects to pay out $58 million — that’s cash to artists minus the company’s distribution fee. This year’s distributions should be about 9% higher than the $53 million paid out last year and 35% greater than 2011’s distributions of $43 million.
The future may be streaming, but independent artists get most of their revenue from downloads. CD Baby artists will receive 77% of their revenue from downloads, down from 80% last year and 81% in 2011. CD Baby marketing manager Kevin Breuner says that about 73% of digital revenue and about 61% of total revenue comes from iTunes.
Streaming revenue is small but growing. This year, CD Baby will get 8% of its revenue from streaming services, up from 5% and 2% in the previous two years. Subscription services like Spotify and Rhapsody are included in CD Baby’s streaming revenue. Noninteractive services like Pandora and SiriusXM, which pay royalties through SoundExchange, are also not included.
Also excluded from the streaming figures is YouTube, a service long used for promotion that is gaining as a revenue source. CD Baby has delivered its catalog to YouTube and the company is experiencing strong revenue growth. CD Baby has paid out more than $1 million, and the last quarterly distribution was about $300,000. “It’s something we think is just going to explode,” Breuner says.
Independent artists are aided by continued demand for physical product. CDs and LPs will account for 15% of artist revenue this year, even with last year and down slightly from 17% in 2011. Some of that revenue comes from CD Baby’s partnership with Alliance Entertainment that puts independent artists’ albums into brick-and-mortar stores. But those figures don’t tell the entire story. Not counted in CD Baby’s artist distributions are artist earnings from selling CDs and LPs themselves. Anyone who attends concerts frequently knows the venue merchandise table is one of the last bastions of physical product.
“For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands.”
(2 Timothy 1:6, NIV)
Have you ever wanted to do something really great? Maybe you had a big dream; maybe you believed you could start a business. Maybe you wanted to lose some weight or go back to school. Now, it’s been so long. You tried and it didn’t work out. The loan didn’t go through. The medical report wasn’t good. Now, the “never” lies are playing in your mind… “I’ll never get well.” “I’ll never get married.” “I’ll never accomplish my dreams.”
Today is the day to get your fire back. Today is the day to get a new perspective. The Creator of the universe has already set the completion date for the dream He’s placed in your heart. And, just because it hasn’t happened yet doesn’t mean that it’s not going to happen. God has already lined up the right people, the right breaks, the right answers. Everything you need is already in your future. Now you’ve got to shake off the doubt; shake off the discouragement. Whether it’s been a year, five years or fifty years, what God promised you He still has every intention of bringing it to pass. Keep standing, keep believing, keep hoping and keep moving forward. Get your fire back and let Him fulfill every dream He has placed in your heart!
A PRAYER FOR TODAY
Father, thank You for every dream and desire You’ve placed within me. Today I choose to press forward. I choose to stand in faith. I choose to be diligent with everything You have placed in my hand in Jesus’ name. Amen.
“Deep calls to deep in the roar of your waterfalls; all your waves and breakers have swept over me.”
(Psalm 42:7, NIV)
Friend, I believe God wants to release a flood of His power in your life. Not a trickle, not a stream, not a river, but a flood. A flood of increase, a flood of healing, a flood of ideas. Don’t get stuck in a rut believing for small things. Don’t settle where you are because you think you’ve reached your limits. No, you need to get ready. I can see something in your future. Through my eyes of faith, I can see a tidal wave coming your way. It’s not a wave of defeat, a wave of bad breaks, a wave of more of the same. No, things have shifted. It’s a wave of increase, a wave of favor, a wave of healing! It’s God releasing His goodness like a flood. It’s going to help you to overcome that obstacle. It’s going to cause you to accomplish your dreams.
Today, why don’t you dare to believe? Don’t just think “trickle.” Switch over into faith and start thinking “flood.” If you’ll believe for His overflow, God can bring you into overflow. If you’ll dare to believe “tidal wave,” then God will release a tidal wave of His goodness in your life!
A PRAYER FOR TODAY
Father, today I lift my heart to You to receive the tidal wave of goodness You have prepared for me. May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be pleasing to You, my King in Jesus’ name. Amen.
“We know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.”
(Romans 8:28, NLT)
Right now, God is working behind the scenes in your life! No matter what you may be facing, no matter what trial you may be going through, God has a plan to turn things around in your favor. Right now, He is working out a plan for your good. Right now, He is orchestrating the right people to come across your path. He is orchestrating the right opportunities to open up to you.
You may not see it in the natural, but look with your eyes of faith today. Keep standing. Keep believing. Keep hoping. Keep following His Word. Focus on His goodness in your life, knowing that He rewards the people who seek after Him. As you meditate on the faithfulness of God and show your love for Him by following His Word, you will see His great plan come to pass. You’ll experience His peace and joy and embrace the victory He has prepared for you!
A PRAYER FOR TODAY
Father, thank You for Your faithfulness in my life. I trust that You are working behind the scenes on my behalf. Give me Your strength and peace today and fill me with Your faith that overcomes in Jesus’ name. Amen.