1. Nobody wants old people’s albums.

Despite a plethora of press, Elton and McCartney’s and Elvis Costello’s album with the Roots sank like a stone and haven’t been heard from since. It’s almost like they never came out. Proving that publicity can make people aware, but it doesn’t necessarily make them interested. In other words, getting someone to listen is the hardest chore of the era. It’s so different from when we were addicted to radio and there were so few stations we knew everything by heart. Now we’ve got tons of options, not only musical, and just because you were important to us once that does not mean you’re important to us now.

2. Los Angeles is the center of the music business.

It was in the sixties, and then there was a shift to New York at the end of the last century. But with Lucian Grainge and Universal/Capitol, and AEG and Live Nation in L.A., this is where the power reigns. You don’t have to be in L.A. to make it, but if you’re a business person, think about moving to L.A.

3. Pearl Jam and Phish are oldies bands.

Everybody’s getting older every minute. Pearl Jam fans are over forty and Phish’s are just under that. Most of them go to the show to relive what once was. And it’s harder than ever for these bands to make new fans.

4. Justin Timberlake’s second album in twelve months was too much.

The hype sputtered out. We’re thrilled when the most beautiful person knocks on our door. But if they do it every day for a year, we no longer open it.

5. Some people are just self-destructive.

Like Anthony Weiner and Alec Baldwin and Chris Brown.

Then again, we’re all flawed.

But we rarely forgive. And if we do, we don’t let you back on the perch, you exist outside the game.

6. iTunes Radio

Too little too late. Pandora had first mover advantage. Be first and continue to innovate, otherwise you die. That’s Spotify’s advantage. They have horrific marketing, but they keep innovating, with chips in electronics and so much more. If you think Spotify is a losing proposition you never studied the mobile phone business. You invest heavily to reap rewards later. Just like the cable companies too!

7. Huawei Android phones are so cheap maybe Apple was right not to compete at the bottom of the market.

8. Some things can never come back, like MySpace.

9. You can’t go to the well every year. Bon Jovi’s tour business was soft, he should have taken a year off, if not two or three, off. U2 knows this.

10. It’s key to invest in your future. The Eagles may have not made money on their movie, but its airplay on Showtime boosted their ticket counts. You spend money to make money.

11. The key to typing on an iPhone is to let the device correct the mistakes.

If you’re used to a BlackBerry and trying to get it right, you’re gonna be extremely frustrated.

12. Everybody still hates Ticketmaster and you still can’t get a good ticket unless you know someone or overpay.

The heat is felt at the consumer level, but this is an industry problem. The lack of trust will come back to haunt artists and promoters.

13. The only money is in the ticketing.

That’s the promoter’s profit. Therefore, he who controls the ticketing wins.

14. Justin Bieber is toast.

He blew himself up.

15. You can’t will a TV show to success.

“X Factor” is a dud. It’s never gonna hit. Cancel it and put it out of its misery.

16. There’s too much information.

Therefore only the best wins. You’ve got to be the best musician with the best songs and performance and…being in the marketplace is not enough.

17. TV can only help with awareness, it cannot break an act.

18. Politics is a loser’s game.

Despite all the brouhaha about the health care act, a huge slice of the country has just tuned out. Nothing seems to get done. Just the same wannabe famous people arguing.

19. Country consumed classic rock, rap is next.

In other words, check out Colt Ford.

20. We expect you to be available 24/7.

Don’t turn off your phone, don’t stop checking your e-mail. You may hate it, but this is the new normal.

21. Artists triumph when they speak truth to power.

One of the reasons music is in a bad place is because everybody is cozying up to power. A great song knows no limits, it can become ubiquitous, it can make people uncomfortable and change behavior. Tracks have power, but you’ve got to use it.

22. You don’t have to social network to make it.

You’ve just got to do great work, constantly.

23. Most of the audience will take years to catch up to your work.

Therefore, if you’ve got some traction, don’t get frustrated you’re not bigger, just keep on keepin’ on, creating all the way.

24. Everything Google does is not successful.

Chromecast…good idea, not a lot of traction. Glass…not so good idea, tons of press, not great traction. Never mind all the Google products that have failed.

25. Execution is everything.

There are tons of good ideas. He who puts his nose to the grindstone and makes it happen is the one who wins.

26. Don’t ignore your core audience.

Touring the world may make you new fans, but it might alienate your old ones while you’re out of the picture, ignoring them.

27. Individuals make a difference.

They still call it “60 Minutes,” but without Don Hewitt, the show is a shadow of its former self.

28. CDs are for Luddites.

29. Record labels are on the verge of a financial cliff, with the expiration of the album.

30. Baseball and automobiles are so twentieth century.

Baby boomers don’t stop talking about them, but their kids shrug their shoulders and lust for the latest mobile device.

31. Gaming consoles are past their peak.

It’s not about expanding the power of the PlayStation or Xbox, it’s about expanding the power of new devices to include gaming. This has already happened with mobile devices, but my main point is it’s about the TV including gaming, not vice versa. One more time, you don’t add features to the typewriter, you make a computer that includes word processing. Gaming is a feature, not the be all and end all.

32. We live in an on demand culture.

If your product is not available 24/7, you’d better be expensive and shooting for an exclusive, tiny audience. Restrictions are history. Make it available, or people will consume something else.

33. Movies are dead and never coming back.

Television has replaced them. Because story is universal and special effects are not. In other words, you’re gonna get very tired of screwing someone who’s beautiful but doesn’t talk.

34. We live in a consumer culture.

If you want to start a trend, start with consumers, not businesses.

35. Youngsters are not always first to a trend.

36. We expect everything to work.

From cars to computers, the old sixties mantra of not buying electric windows because they break is passe. If you buy a product that breaks, you will never buy another product from that company again.

~~~


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Category: Music, Think Tank

Please use the comments to demonstrate your own ignorance, unfamiliarity with empirical data and lack of respect for scientific knowledge. Be sure to create straw men and argue against things I have neither said nor implied. If you could repeat previously discredited memes or steer the conversation into irrelevant, off topic discussions, it would be appreciated. Lastly, kindly forgo all civility in your discourse . . . you are, after all, anonymous.

7 Responses to “Lefsetz: 36 Things We’ve Learned”

  1. spooz says:

    A blog comment the other day got me to search out “Royals” by Lorde the other day and I can’t get it out of my head. Somebody to watch, I think.

    http://www.rollingstone.com/music/news/lordes-teenage-dream-20131028

  2. woolybear1 says:

    this guy has a real talent for stating the obvious

    • ottnott says:

      And for repeating it.

      And for stating the ridiculous: “We expect everything to work. …If you buy a product that breaks, you will never buy another product from that company again.” No. What we expect is a good return policy. Perfection is prohibitively expensive for any product targeted at a broad market.

  3. [...] Bob Lefsetz, “If you want to start a trend, start with consumers, not businesses.”  (Big Picture) [...]

  4. ToddMPeters says:

    I’m not a JT fan, but releasing two albums in 12 months won’t kill his career or popularity. The Rolling Stones, Beatles and others released a blitzkrieg of albums in the late 60′s and early 70′s. Creative peaks, by definition, don’t last forever. Strike while the iron is hot.

  5. Anonne says:

    I like Mista JT but I didn’t touch the second album. Half of the first was a little too much. I should have stuck with the singles, although I can appreciate the artistry of Blue Ocean Floor and the fun, throwback vibe of That Girl.

  6. [...] for later' items in my RSS reader over the weekend and I re-visited this gem from Bob Lefsetz, 36 Things We've Learned which ran a few weeks back on the Big Picture [...]