The End of Guitar Center

A jaw-dropping article on the gloomy future of the big box music giant:

Citing a bloated cost structure that keeps the company from achieving historical profitability, new CEO Darrell Webb fires 42 corporate executives, including the last remnant of Mike Pratt’s team, as well as 28 regional managers. Music Trades reports that the company is down to $10 million in available cash after Christmas.

The constant, smarmy mantra of impenetrability and infallibility has finally been dispelled. Their new executives have, at long last, ceased the comedy routine about how Guitar Center’s stores are always profitable no matter how many times Standard & Poor’s declares them technically in default, or that a billion dollar of debt is totally normal and wonderful and manageable. In a recent email, Webb explains the firings with the dry rationale of needing to be profitable, and foreshadowed that the company will “continue to seek efficiencies.” We seem to be hearing much less about that $3 billion in future revenue and much more about the jobs yet to be cut.

It sounds like a lot to you and me but in the scope of a business like Guitar Center, $10 million is nothing. Crippling debt and a business model that only made sense in the pre-internet era. As the author elsewhere describes it, a charmless “catalog with walls.”

The End of Guitar Center (thanks Patrick).

Awesome classic creature FX are awesome

Cool short documentary on the puppeteers that brought Jabba the Hutt to life. Designed by Phil Tippett (the very same), Jabba was at the time the largest puppet they’d ever assembled and manipulated by three of Jim Henson’s Muppet puppeteers.

Slimy Piece of Worm-Ridden Filth – Life Inside Jabba the Hutt – @Jamieswb from Jamie Benning on Vimeo.

Also, here’s a Tested episode that visits Jim Henson’s Creature Shop and explores the evolution of puppetry in SFX:

I love seeing the all the mechanical bits that make these puppets work. When I was a kid I wanted to make an E.T. puppet but only got as far as carving up a few foam blocks. I should have been paying as much attention to Tippett as I did to Harryhausen back then.

(Also why do some people hate The Dark Crystal? That movie rules.)

Ready For Rain

From the bookmarks file: Lee LeFever on why Seattleites crave the end of summer. I disagree on the whole; summertime in Seattle is goddamn glorious and far too fleeting.

These passages did resonate with me, though:

But the arrival of summer sun comes with an obligation, a duty to make up for lost time, a need to squeeze every drop of fun from a few months of long warm days. It’s a feeling of pressure, pressure to make the most of a fleeting resource.

[…]

We Ask: Am I taking advantage of this time I’m given? What can I do to truly make this summer special?

I have certainly felt that way. In midsummer I tend to feel both manic and drunk on sunshine. I never seem to get everything done that I want to in the summer. But I’ve felt that way everywhere, not just Seattle. In my opinion there are better cities in which to get your cozy on, if that’s your thing.

Pre-order the new Kirby Krackle album “Mutate, Baby!” (and free single)

Mutate, Baby! is the name of the new Kirby Krackle album and you can get the first single “No Spoilers, Please” for free at Bandcamp right now. This tune is my current personal fave of the bunch.

The album officially drops March 17th. Go get your copy!

Stepping off the YouTube/Adsense merry-go-round

Two things that strike me as related: first, cellist Zoë Keating getting strong-armed by YouTube into joining their new streaming music service. Next, this story about a YouTuber who had his account suspended for alleged click fraud and his inability to get any help from Google.

These stories should scare independent artists. My opinion is if you choose to become part of the YouTube flywheel, you should prepare for the eventuality that whatever income you’re making will vanish overnight with no recourse. YouTube is understandably alluring due to the huge viewership numbers and friction-free monetization (just turn on ads! What could possibly go wrong?), but today I think it’s dangerous to see it as anything but a stepping stone to better things. Use it to grow, grow, grow your audience then GTFO and take that audience with you to Patreon, a sponsorship or some other platform that won’t pull the rug out from underneath you.

YouTube/Adsense dominance is a problem ripe for some of that “disruption” the folks in Silicon Valley love so much.