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Walter Yetnikoff Addresses MEIEA/MEISA Conference 2004
By Steve Balletto
(more articles from this author)
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On Friday April 2nd, Walter Yetnikoff, the former CEO of CBS/Sony Records and now the acclaimed author of the book "Howling at the Moon: the Odyssey of a Monstrous Music Mogul in an Age of Excess," addressed the members of the MEIEA (Music Entertainment Industry Entertainment Association)/ MEISA (Music Entertainment Industry Students Association) organizations at The Supperclub in New York City. Speaking to a crowd of approximately 300, Yetnikoff gave his view on where the current state of the music industry is.

"As of right now, sales are down 7% ... it is not great but it is not the death of the industry."

The biggest criticism Yetnikoff had was that he believes the record companies are not embracing the internet and utilizing it to their full advantage.

"I think the major companies today are schizophrenic about the internet. None of the major companies have embraced the internet. They are in denial - if we don't pay enough attention to it, maybe it will go away."

Yetnikoff went on to explain how he believes the major record companies are bringing down the music industry as a whole. His reasoning is that executives are not being creative enough and are not looking for new experimental ways to help re-energize the music industry.

"The record companies are looking through a rearview window ... if I did something new and adventuresome it may not work and I could lose my job, if I do what I did yesterday then at least I can't be criticized for doing something outlandish."

"I do not know if Stairway to Heaven the big hit, would be played on FM radio and I don't think Bob Dylan would get a record contract today."

Developing mega artists such as Bruce Springsteen and Michael Jackson over the years gives creditability to Yetnikoff's his opinion that the quality of an overall record has recently diminished. He finished on a positive note though by talking about how people still have a profound passion for music, and ultimately, people still want to buy music. Using Blue Note recording artist Nora Jones as an example of when record companies take the time to produce something of quality, you will always capture the interest of the people to go out and buy the record.

"[The music industry] is in down times but I think with a little encouragement there is room for hope."

As a student in music studies I found his speech to be very honest but also hopeful in that there will be a turnaround in this business and the music industry will be around for a very long time to come.

During the conference there were other panels and speakers such as John Scher, Dave Lory, Adam Kornfeld, and Steve Leeds who spoke about different sections of the music industry.

The conference lasted until April 3rd where it commenced at William Paterson University in Wayne, New Jersey.

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