Check this out:
“Mick’s Message to the Bay Area”:
It’s like a bad SNL skit, a bozo politician doing an inadequate job of reading from the Teleprompter.
And how about this from the Echoplex:
That’s the video on the Stones’ official YouTube page. Listen to Keith’s solo starting around :35, if you’re not laughing, you’re used to hearing your three year old play the guitar.
How did they get it so wrong?
You know the drill… You play the Super Bowl and you put up the shows the next morning, while the memory is still fresh in the public’s brain, before people forget the hype and excitement of the moment. Hell, I can’t even remember who won last year’s Super Bowl, I’ve just about forgotten “Argo” won Best Picture. We’re inundated with so much information, the news cycle is so fast, that if you don’t capitalize on your fame in days, you’re missing out.
So the Stones do their fiftieth anniversary shows last fall.
It’s kind of like Zeppelin at the 02. There may never be another show, you’ve got to overpay to go now, to be part of the excitement. And then MONTHS later, when there’s no buzz whatsoever, the band puts up shows at the same inflated ticket prices. Huh?
Where’s the manager?
There is none.
And you need one. An act without a manager is like an attorney representing himself, he’s got a fool for a client. You need a third eye, an opinion from outside the maelstrom, to give you perspective.
The entire Rolling Stones YouTube page …was an afterthought. How do I know? Because the views are so low. Remember when the Stones used to premiere videos on TV, how they used to work the public into a frenzy? Now there is no frenzy, there’s no cook creating the perception that if you don’t go, you’re a loser. All you see is greed.
And if you’re that damn greedy, do it like the rest of the superstars. Scalp your own tickets.
That’s the Michael Cohl model. We pay you a lump sum, and you can’t ask how we got that money.
But for prior tours, Cohl had a team of experts, a seamless machine, selling fan club memberships and merch and raking up the capital. This tour is a positively last minute venture with no vision and even poorer execution.
1. Perception Is Everything In The Music Business
Yes, the tickets could theoretically be worth $600, but if you ask for that much, you’re separating yourself from your audience. Sell platinum tickets with B.S. perks, a laminate and the ability to meet Ron Wood or some other superfluous member of the band (I’d say Charlie, but I’m not sure he can speak.)
You build your fan base not on the rich who can pay anything, but the poor who can’t afford much. Yes, in today’s rich versus poor society, and if you don’t think there’s class warfare, you didn’t notice that Obama got reelected, you have to appear to be one of the people if you want to sell to the people. There are not enough 1%ers to fill arenas at these prices.
The public hates Ticketmaster, even though everybody in the business knows it’s a front for the acts. Yup, those inflated fees go to the promoter, the buildings, on previous tours even to the Stones. You need a scapegoat. But the Stones messed up here, there is no scapegoat, the blame falls squarely on their shoulders.
3. Don’t Be Afraid To Share The Money
You pay professional management its commission so you can make more money. It’s kind of like hiring an accountant…they don’t come cheap, but they save you more than their fee, because that’s what they do all day long, taxes. Mick Jagger is hobnobbing with his rich socialite buddies, he’s got no idea what’s going on in the music business, which seemingly changes every six months. He needed fresh, experienced eyes on this.
4. There Are No Secrets
The Stones, like Led Zeppelin, were built on mystery. But there is no mystery today. So either you can be like many old farts and restrict taping and photography, which is kind of like telling kids not to have sex, or you can embrace it. If the Stones are crappy live, they should have their official site filled with fan videos, which we all expect to be crappy. We then go to the show to hear the real deal, up close and personal. But when the official videos sound crappy…you think the band is.
If you don’t embrace it, you can’t energize fans.
The Stones are playing to the mainstream press. And although their audience is the last vestige of those who pay attention to it, they should be tweeting and Facebooking to humanize themselves. It speaks to perception. They need to get down in the pit with their audience.
Paperless. Sure, savvy scalpers can elude the system, then again, it would require a drop in ticket prices to generate excitement, and the Stones don’t seem willing to leave a single dollar on the table.
7. People Talk
Used to be everything was rumor and innuendo, and you didn’t hear much more than what your neighbors had to say, but now with the Internet people can not only read reports from around the world, they can interact with others.
That’s how you sell out a show. By getting everybody talking about it, making them fearful of missing it. There’s no virality here. Hell, look at the YouTube views!
It’s anathema. It’s the same in music as it is in dating. If you need it that bad, we’re turned off. I received the following e-mails:
“Another thing that shows what a disaster this tour is/was is that they actually ANNOUNCED their previously secret/surprise special guests early in the day to try and build hype! The stones official account tweeted about Keith Urban and Gwen Stefani’s appearances early in the day. Why in the world would you do this if it was supposed to be a surprise other than to try and scramble to get people to come down? They were just reaching for anything at this point. Today they announced Tom Waits guest appearance for Oakland. What a joke.”
“Twitter made big bucks last night. The feed was full of Twads and I mean 7-10 in a row time and time again, espousing all their special guests.”
It’s supposed to be a SURPRISE!
10. Flex Pricing
“Rolling Stones Concert Promoter On ‘Flex Pricing’ Ticket Strategy: ‘I Want the Brokers Pissed Off’”: http://bit.ly/1426WgN
Let’s assume this was AEG’s plan all along, WHY DIDN’T THEY TELL ANYBODY?
This is kind of like paying a grand for an airline ticket the week of and finding out if you’d booked a month in advance, it’d be $350. Don’t create a game without telling us the rules.
If you believe there were no $85 customers sitting next to $600 customers, you probably believe everything you read in the newspaper. You can tell the press whatever you want, and the people on the music beat, those who remain, who were not downsized out of existence, will print it. Because they want the access, they want the free tickets. That’s what the entire music press is built upon, access. But if you wouldn’t rather speak to a tech titan than a rocker, you own no smartphone and are unable to cogitate.
12. The Press
Read the “New York Times” article wherein it’s stated that Roger Ailes cut Geraldo Rivera’s mic when he was defending Obama on Fox. But it gets better, Benghazi was a big story because Fox hammered it.
Read the facts here:
“Behind the Scenes at Fox”: http://nyti.ms/18UX7lL
Then again, this is long after the fact. And the “Times” story is reporting on a book.
Which is why if you want to know what’s going on in music, you go to the web, the one place the Stones forgot to look.
13. “Rolling Stone” Cover Story
It’s supposed to come out BEFORE the tour begins. That’s like letting you flip through “Playboy” before asking for payment for the magazine. No, that’s like watching Internet porn, getting off, and then being asked to pay. Music is a sideshow, a carnival, which is why Colonel Tom Parker did so well for Elvis. And yes, he might have ripped Presley off, not gone to Europe for fear of being revealed to be an illegal alien, but Parker made and sustained his career. There’s yet to be a superstar without a great manager. Because performing and managing are two different skills!
14. You Come Out With Both Guns Blazing And Establish Your Narrative
The Stones have lost control of their story. Meglen didn’t come out and defend their ticketing practices until days after shows began.
15. Things Change
Just because you sold a ton of tickets yesterday, that does not mean you can sell a ton today. Yes, the Stones could have sold out no problem if every ticket was $85, and furthermore, scalpers for superstar shows beget tons of press about how impossible it is to get in, how expensive it is, which only burnishes an act’s image.
16. We All Want What We Can’t Have
We should be salivating and unable to get a ticket. Instead, everybody can attend, even up to the very last minute. It’s kind of like queuing up at the Apple Store for the latest product and finding out no one else is in line. Huh? The day one of Apple’s new products falls flat is the day the company’s done.
Once again, it all comes down to money.
Didn’t used to be that way, it used to be about music. And fame. And sex. You wanted to have sex with Mick Jagger. Do you want to have sex with that emaciated guy in the video above? Eek! Maybe, but only to be able to tell your friends!
The eighties were the height of fame, because that’s what TV gives you, ubiquity. Radio can’t compete.
And today it’s all about music. If you’re in it for the money, you’re in the wrong business. Follow Bono’s lead, become a venture capitalist.
And if you do decide to play music, get a great manager. Gene Simmons likes to bloviate how it’s all about the money, but without Bill Aucoin, he’d have none.
Visit the archive
If you would like to subscribe to the LefsetzLetter