Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Altavoz Appoints Label Relations Head to Expand Music Catalog

Altavoz Appoints Label Relations Head to Expand Music Catalog

Washington, DC (June 1, 2011) -- Vara Entertainment Group CEO Aaron Pittman joins Altavoz as president of label relations, effective May 16.  Pittman’s two-decade career boasts experience across all sectors of the entertainment industry. From producing video and music with Noontime Productions, RedZone Entertainment and Columbia Records/So So Def to running the entertainment company Vara Entertainment, Pittman brings a wealth of knowledge and contacts to Altavoz.   

In 1995, Pittman, a producer and singer-songwriter, moved to Atlanta, GA and started his career at Noontime Productions. A monumental period in Pittman’s career occurred when he had his first commercial release while working with Columbia Records/So So Def artist, Da Brat. Pittman’s musical compositions have been featured in productions including the Lions Gate Film, “Civil Brand” and the FOX television series, “Dark Angel”.  He also produced and engineered multi-platinum artists Usher, Keri Hilson, Ashanti, and The Dream.

After spending 15 years in the production and creative sides of the industry, Pittman made the decision to start his own entertainment company, Vara Entertainment Group. His goal was to assist independent artists and be a translator within the complex entertainment industry.

Pittman went to the NARM Convention in May 2011 in hopes of finding a distribution deal but after speaking with Altavoz co-CEO Nelson Jacobsen, it was evident that Pittman’s knowledge and experience could greatly help the growth and vision of Altavoz. “After initially meeting with Nelson and learning more about the mission of Altavoz,” recalls Pittman, “we realized there was a missing link in the artist/distributor relationship. I’m looking forward to being a major player in this company and bridging that gap to fulfill the goals of Altavoz.”

“Bringing on Aaron will ensure that we build a catalog of quality artists, both established and up and comers, that fans will love,” said Jessamyn Sarmiento, co-CEO. “His creative sensibility will be a major driver in our consulting services for labels, bands and artists who have what it takes, but need a little extra push. We are excited to have Aaron on board.”

Last month, Altavoz announced the addition of Bill Daly, owner of Crooked Beat Records in Washington, DC, to its Board of Directors.  Daly‘s legendary path in the industry includes his years as founding member, bass player, singer and lead songwriter for the punk-influenced band Insurgence and as a key figure in the success of Schoolkids Records, the first and only independent music store in Raleigh, NC. Daly was also a key figure in the creation of the original Altavoz Distribution back in 1995.

About Altavoz Entertainment
Altavoz is a cloud entertainment company that distributes and promotes independent music, video and game products in retail stores and across all digital channels -- we call it “clicks to bricks” distribution. We pride ourselves on being different from other distributors. What makes us unique is our knowledge of the retail environment and how to successfully leverage it with cutting-edge digital platforms -- and we do it all with a social conscience. Altavoz entertainment producers agree to give some proceeds from the sale of distributed products to causes they believe in, managed through the charitable arm of Altavoz. And, we offer successful producers the option to own stock in Altavoz.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Buy Indie Support Locals the consumerization of our economy

The premise of “buy indie support locals” is not just a catchy phrase. By buying independently produced entertainment product you are supporting the majority of the entertainment industry -- those artists, musicians, filmmakers and others who account for 90 percent of the product we produce -- yet only 10 percent of the sales. This “indie” business is of vital concern -- not just to our collective bottom line. It is the most important way we influence the world.

Looking back 20 years ago, U.S. exports of entertainment related goods were 40 percent of our exports, and for many years it was our number one export. Take the case of music: our exports of these entertainment products totaled $36 billion in 1996, more than any other U.S. industry, according to Commerce  Department data.

Today, according to that same data, our entertainment product exports are a small percentage of what they used to be. How could we allow them to decline so much? It used to be that 80 percent of the world’s entertainment was conceived here, recorded here, manufactured here, and then exported. Importantly, all the profits from this activity stayed here in the U.S. This is the way it was until 1997. That year, the consolidation of the major labels and the near extinction of domestic independent entertainment distribution began.

Every time a U.S. consumer buys entertainment product from a multinational corporation, product from artists on labels like Bertelsmann AG, Sony, Universal or WEA, the U.S. loses both the domestic income and the ability to export finished product, accounting for billions in lost opportunities.  Between 1996 and 2004 multinational corporations, saw their foreign profits nearly double -- while domestic profit margins declined by more then three percent.  

Yet, the entertainment business is still profitable according to the National Association of Recording Merchandisers. The worldwide entertainment market grew by 2.3 percent in 2009. Yet, according to Census data we exported less than $3 million dollars worth of music product in that same year, down about a half a million from the year before. In less then a decade we when from billions in entertainment product exports to millions, without a blink of an eye.

Micheal E. Porter eloquently  pointed out in “The Competitive Advantage of Nations,” that  'a nation's  prosperity is created and not inherited, states must recognize that a nation's competitiveness depends on the capacity of its industries to innovate and upgrade.’   We have failed to heed these words and worse is that we are entertaining our economy to death.

We hear President Obama claim that we will win the future. I ask, does he or any 2012 candidate or government official have a clue as to the economic impact of entertainment product exports on the domestic economy -- let alone on the content or lack of it, that we export to the rest of the world? I am pretty sure the bean counters at the major labels do.

Major label entertainers may conceive their music here and even produce it here. However, it is very clear that the majors, as multinational corporations, love to shift intangibles created in the U.S. to foreign subsidies with less of a tax burden. These “intangibles” are further shielded by the elimination of the check-the-box rule, which now allows multinationals to avoid rules which trigger payment of interest or royalty payments to IP holders.  We are losing billions of dollars on our intellectual property and we can stop it with a check box.

We call on the Administration, Congress, state and local officials to understand that Buy Indie Support Locals means billions of dollars to our local economy. During this next election cycle politicians need to think hard about the choice of music and artists that perform for your campaigns. It better be locally produced, manufactured and supported in the U.S.A.  If our agencies, politicians, and trade groups claim to represent the interest of American citizens, they must take Buy Indie Support Locals as gospel.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Altavoz Distribution Brings on Music Industry Legend Bill Daly to Board of Directors

Altavoz Distribution Brings on Music Industry Legend to Board of Directors
Bill Daly, Owner of Crooked Beat Records and Founding Member of Insurgence

Washington, DC -- Altavoz is pleased to announce the addition of Bill Daly, owner of Crooked Beat Records in Washington, DC, to its Board of Directors.  Daly‘s legendary path in the industry includes his years as founding member, bass player, singer and lead songwriter for the punk-influenced band Insurgence and was a key figure in the success of Schoolkids Records, the first and only independent music store in Raleigh, NC.

Daly was also a key figure in the creation of the original Altavoz Distribution back in 1995. “It is very satisfying to know that an idea I had almost 20 years ago is still pertinent and continues to move forward in today’s world of independent music,” said Daly. “I am confident that I can help Altavoz grow and am excited to be a part of the team.”  

A Washington, DC native, Daly gave up a basketball scholarship to go to college in North Carolina. “ I went there not only for school,” Daly recalls. “I already knew there was a strong music community in NC and wanted to be involved in it.” While there he formed Insurgence who put several releases and played over 400 shows from 1987-2000. The band has been on hiatus since 2000. But initial plans are being made to record a new album and play shows later this year.

At Daly’s suggestion a group of his friends met with him at his house one afternoon in the winter of 1995. It was there where he expressed his idea and suggested they form a distribution network that would assist independents artists with their releases. Daly’s vision planted the seeds for an independent music distribution company that today is the entertainment distributor Altavoz.

In 1997, he left Schoolkids and opened up Crooked Beat Records in Raleigh, NC. He relocated the store in 2004 to the Adams Morgan neighborhood of Washington, DC. Today, Crooked Beat Records is one of the prominent record stores on the eastern seaboard thus serving as a magnet for fans of hard to find punk, indie, reggae and other hard to find titles in the vinyl format.

Daly joins Altavoz co-CEOs Nelson Jacobsen and Jessamyn Sarmiento in building on the ideals that started the company -- providing the distribution platform and channels that have traditionally eluded the independent artist so that their content/product can be accessed by their fans. “We are so happy to be reunited with Bill. His insight, contacts and enthusiasm for our company and the state of independent music and entertainment is going to help drive us to be very successful,” said Sarmiento. “We are honored to have Bill on board and look forward to his counsel as we launch our new website and other platforms this summer,” added Jacobsen.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

We Love Music Stores: Attention Retailers of Entertainment Goods.

We Love Music Stores: Attention Retailers of Entertainment Goods.: "We love you............ The future of entertainment today is not going to happen without the help of the retailers that have been with the..."