1. Filter

People don’t know what to listen to. You can’t trust the radio, you can only trust your friends, and who’s to say your friends have the same taste as you?

He who tells us what to listen to will have all the power in the future.

It will not be an algorithm.

If you think Pandora has great recommendations, you’ve got no taste. If that’s the future of radio, I want no part.


2.  Money Trumps Art

Everyone’s trying to get rich, or bitching that they’re poor. People no longer discuss music, but their financial stability. Furthermore, money is the ultimate arbiter. If someone sells a lot of tickets or a lot of tracks you can’t say a negative thing about them. This coarsens our society. Critical thinking is crucial to a healthy arts scene. Something can be successful and suck. Conversely, it can be obscure and great. If your first question is how do I make money, you shouldn’t be in music.


3. Everybody Thinks They’re A Star

We’re only interested in the exceptional. It’s kind of like the Olympics, if you don’t medal, we don’t know your name. In the old days, with a limited universe, mediocre, with exposure and promotion, could make it. Today, you’ve got to be positively A-team. Or, the beneficiary of A-team marketing and promotion. But if your music doesn’t sell itself, your career will be very brief.


4. You Can’t Get A Good Ticket At A Fair Price

Therefore people don’t even try to buy. For all the bitching from people who overpay or sit in the cheap seats there are legions who’ve opted out of live music. This is the industry’s problem. With no one leading the charge against it. It’s easy to fall out of the habit of going to the show.


5. Greed

This is just how the rich like it. The hoi polloi fighting amongst themselves, oblivious to the true enemy. The acts and executives, the agents and the promoters, they’re fighting over a tiny pot.


6. Con Artists

You know, the websites that give you advice and hope, and charge you for the privilege. Not everybody can work in the music business, not everybody can be a star. If you’re paying someone to host your stuff, to get you gigs, you’re either not good or delusional or both.


7. Classic Rock

It was too good. Just because the kids like something that does not make it good. Come on, all you trumpeting the Jonas Brothers, name one of their songs… Until modern acts truly reach the brass ring, the whole sphere will suffer. As for those saying today’s music is just as good as yesteryear’s…you don’t have ears.


8. Old Media

From radio to newspapers to movies it’s old world thinking, a circle jerk trying to perpetuate something that’s dead. The sooner old media dies, the clearer the landscape will be. Radio is not coming back. Newspapers will not survive in print, and most won’t survive at all. And while we’re at it, CDs are history and physical books are goners. The fact that something still exists does not mean it isn’t over. If you’re discussing piracy, the death of the CD, singles and streaming, you’re wasting your breath. The modern music world is not like Congress, there’s no consensus amongst an elite. Instead modernity is an endless rushing river controlled by nobody. If you’re doubling down on old media, you’re probably investing in the PC business and feature phones.


9. Working The Numbers

Whether it be authors scamming Amazon reviews or record companies garnering fake YouTube plays you can no longer trust statistics and reviews. Everybody’s a scumbag. Trying to game the system. And it’ll only go away when e-mail spam is eradicated. Which probably won’t be in my lifetime.


10. Lack Of Knowledge

No one knows history. Before you sit down to write your song, listen to the Beatles catalog, learn about a bridge, learn about harmony. You can’t break every rule and be successful. If you’re familiar with the basic building blocks, you’ve got a chance of making it.



1. Peer To Peer File-Sharing

It’s declining. Everything’s free on YouTube anyway. To worry about piracy is to be shortsighted. If you don’t want people to trade your music you’re living in the last century. Your enemy is not piracy, but obscurity. Just because the RIAA controls the media discussion, that doesn’t mean you should pay attention. Focus on your career. Focus on being great. There’s plenty of money to be made if you are. Not as much as being a banker, but that’s got more to do with the meshuggeneh country we live in and its flawed economic policies than piracy.


2. Sound Quality

The baby boomers listened to 45s on some of the worst systems imaginable. If it’s a hit song, it sounds good on anything. Yes, a hi-fi boom would lift all boats, but it won’t happen by badgering people their sound sucks, but creating stuff so marvelous you want to hear it at a high level, which is not today’s compressed, loudness wars crap.


3. Electronic Music

You didn’t understand rap, does your opinion on EDM count?


4. Texting & Shooting Photos At Gigs

People live to communicate, it’s human nature. Maybe they’ll communicate about you! The best way to combat social media at a show is to be absolutely riveting. But even that won’t work…people live to connect. And at these prices do you blame them?


5. Information

Google yourself. You’ll find the bread crumbs of your life. You never know when someone will decide to check you out. If you’ve got no online presence, you will have no success. The first thing someone does when they’re interested is read your Wikipedia page. And they can tell if you wrote it yourself, they laugh behind your back. If someone can’t research your history and find out almost everything about you, you’re doing it wrong. Don’t think campaign, think land mine. People will find you when they’re good and ready.


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4 Responses to “Top Ten Issues in the Music Industry”

  1. Jojo says:

    “Radio is not coming back.”
    Maybe for the masses listening to “popular” music. But internet radio apps like Tunein, which aggregates radio stations from all over the world, are doing a good job of making radio accessible and available as long as you have a net connection.

    I’ve got hundreds of GB of digital music on my computer but I rarely listen to any of it. I hate organizing and choosing. So I tend to listen to internet radio on my phone, generally jazz or classical with some oldies occasionally thrown in (I do wish that the oldie stations would stop calling themselves “Doo-Wop” something or other when they rarely play anything earlier than 1962!).

    If there is a future for radio (and I think there is), it will be transmitting on the net.

  2. NoKidding says:

    Yeah, all of these points are valid.
    Internet destroyed the old model. As you say, peer-to-peer is no longer the enemy, we’re way past that point now. The enemy is the vacuum left behind when the old machine vanished. It eats the souls of actual artists and leaves self the promoting kids of the privelidged class to talentlesly eat their lunch.
    Nobody is there to invest in young talent, and these kids are not smart enough to make it work without guidance – they never were.

  3. Ideasinfocus says:

    Want to know where there is an abundance of great music? Canada. (I’m from the USA, BTW.)

    Less greed, less commercialism, more emphasis on the craft, more bands that have had to earn their success through lots of touring, great stage shows, and a love of their craft.

    Great Big Sea, Joel Plaskett, Sam Roberts, Arcade Fire, Hey Ocean, The Weakerthans, Matt Mays, Metric, and Barenaked Ladies just to name a few.

    I’d put any of them up against what’s coming out of the US these days.

    Even better, when they come to the states, I can see most of them in a small venue vs. some arena with a crappy sounds system.

    Finally, I find new music by subscribing to podcasts that introduce me to a handful of new bands each week. If I like what I hear I can jump onto iTunes or Amazon, preview more and make a purchase. I think technology has enhanced my ability to discover and enjoy new music and has given me access to bands that I would never have found 20 years ago on the radio.

  4. [...] The top ten issues in the music industry.  (Bob Lefsetz) [...]