MAJOR LABELS

More powerful than at any time since Napster.

Case in point, Sam Smith. One has to credit Capitol with a phenomenal publicity campaign. Mr. Smith has been featured in every major outlet, the press on his Apollo show alone was incredible. This is what a major label can do, it can build a star overnight. An indie act could be as good as Sam Smith, but without the muscle, money and relationships, it could never get the push, the head start.

Prior to Internet cacophony, which started in earnest three years ago, the best and the brightest flowed to the top. But now we’re all overwhelmed with information and we look to others to point us in the right direction.

Nothing is as powerful as the recommendations of friends, but when there’s a swirl of information, when every major outlet is championing something, people sample, and that’s the hardest thing to do today, to get someone to check you out.

The Internet was supposed to wipe out major labels. But it’s only made them stronger. They’re utilizing their catalogs to leverage concessions from streaming services and they own radio.

In other words, all the scuttlebutt about indies is just that. And most indie successes have a major label tie.

ELECTRIC DAISY CARNIVAL

The “New York Times” and “Wall Street Journal” send reporters to Coachella, but none to Electric Daisy, which dwarfs the other desert festival in attendees. Not that there’s anything special going on at Coachella, just a bunch of kids having coming of age experiences pogoing to deejays in the Sahara tent and a bunch of old fogeys populating the main stages.

This is what happens when media loses control of the message. Once upon a time, the only news we knew was distributed by the major media. If they didn’t feature it, it didn’t happen. But today there’s a plethora of information/reporting available, as a result 140,000 people a day trekked to the racetrack in the desert for an all night show, a three night extravaganza.

It’s about culture, it always is, that’s the essence of big movements, whether it be the Woodstock Generation or hip-hop or EDM/electronic music.

EDC’s not getting the publicity it deserves.

PEOPLE

Lucian Grainge, Doug Morris and…who at Warner Music?

Art is not about running the trains on time, hell, a good artist is rarely punctual. It’s about finding the nugget and refining and promoting it. Which is why the music business has been populated by impresarios, from Ahmet Ertegun to Chris Blackwell to…Jimmy Iovine.

Warner Music has no impresarios. The operation has discipline, but no content, no zest. Sony was revitalized by the aged Doug Morris, proving it’s not about your age, but your skills.

FESTIVALS

We’ve reached the limit. Certainly in the U.S.

In other words, do I really need to read about the Governors Ball, never mind go?

To triumph festivals have to be special. It’s about location and production and billing. If everybody has got the same acts, the newer efforts pale.

So we’ve got the progenitor, Coachella, it survives. As does Lollapalooza, because of its great location. Everything else is up for grabs.

The next tier is ACL and Bonnaroo. ACL has the benefit of being in Austin. Bonnaroo has the detriment of being in the middle of nowhere. Coachella is a rite of passage, Bonnaroo is three days in the heat and the mud and hopefully not more rain. Bonnaroo cannot sell without a lineup, unlike Electric Daisy, which trumps them all.

And if you’re not one of the above… You’re fighting for your survival.

Look at the U.K. this year. Glastonbury is Coachella, it always does well. But other festivals are experiencing hiccups.

The acts are the topping at a festival. What the promoter is selling is cool. Unless you can convince the audience your event is a must-attend, cool happening, you’re vulnerable.

DEATHS AT EDC

Are irrelevant. People die everywhere. This is not New York City, this is Las Vegas.

In other words, deaths at Electric Daisy are equivalent to Mayor Eric Garcetti dropping an F-bomb at the Kings celebration. The media gets its knickers in a twist, but those who truly care don’t even shrug, they don’t even pay attention.

We live in an era of personal responsibility. If you do too many drugs and O.D…that’s your fault. If we’re gonna ban electronic music festivals, we’re going to have to ban casinos, where those who can’t afford it lose all their assets. This certainly isn’t going to happen in Las Vegas, where EDC resides.

PERSONAL BRANDS

A trumped-up construct the media keeps going on about that is nowhere near as important as they think it is. In other words, just because you can post online, that does not mean anybody reads it. We’re at the turning point here, the next step is being a faceless contributing member of society. Only so many can design an app, only so many can win the “Voice.” As people realize this, they’ll strive for something out of the spotlight.

In other words, if you’ve got six hundred Twitter followers and 90,000 tweets…you’re missing the point, life is not for the posting, but for the living. And more and more people are realizing this.

AMAZON & YOUTUBE

Are on the brink of blinking.

That’s the power of the public. Both of these companies are under the illusion that since they provide desired services with low friction that the public is always on their side, nothing could be further from the truth. The public has a strong sense of right and wrong, and right now Jeff Bezos is crossing it.

Yes, Jeff Bezos. He is Amazon. That’s why it’s so successful, because of him. But he’s a retailing savant, his strong suit is not emotions, he’s all dollars and cents. And artists are about emotions.

The Hachette battle is complicated. But if more companies stand up to Amazon, it will blink, as it should, after all, it depends upon good will to survive.

As for YouTube… You’re starting a music service and paying less than your competitors?

Bad form.

POLITICS

People don’t care, that’s why so few vote. Bush got us into Iraq and Afghanistan, Obama can’t get us out. It’s like a bad TV show with low ratings that never gets canceled, with the players, those in D.C., believing they’re still stars.

HILLARY CLINTON

Is everything Democrats want but doing her best not to get elected.

Just because decades ago Bill Clinton learned to lean on pollsters to get elected, this does not mean playing the game works in the twenty first century.

We’re looking for authenticity. When Hillary Clinton calls the Bible the most influential book in her life, we laugh, because we know it’s not true, we know she’s saying that to impress those who don’t care. This is how she lost in 2008, and this is how she’s going to lose again in 2016. She would have been better than Barry, I’d vote for her, but first you’ve got to win the election.

THE HORSE RACE

You’d think the 2016 election is tomorrow. At least the 2014 one. Mainstream media has become like Hollywood, trumpeting movies far in advance of their opening, even though we no longer pay attention, because we know within hours of opening whether they’re any good.

VIRALITY

Is dead. Just can’t happen anymore.

I’m not saying you can’t build online, but the days of going from zero to hero like PSY or KONY or “Harlem Shake”… That’s an era that’s passed. When the paradigm was still new, before we knew it could be manipulated. Now you’ve got to fight to rise above and then keep pushing. As for novelty? It rarely pays dividends.

AMATEUR ART

YouTube stars, everybody starting in their basement, are not to be paid attention to, their strong suit is their desire to be famous, there’s no art there, and to last there must be art, even if the songs are written by Max Martin and Dr. Luke.

CHELSEA HANDLER TO NETFLIX

You go where everybody else isn’t. You can’t win the late night wars, there’s too many people playing, it’s a war of attrition. But by going to Netflix where your show can be streamed 24/7… That’s the future. We live in an on demand world. You mean I have to wait until 11:35 to see your show? You mean you only post excerpts on YouTube? I’ve got to plow through the commercials on Hulu? Netflix has got a huge, built-in audience. And for all the hoopla that releasing all episodes of a show at once kills water cooler talk, there’s been more buzz about “Orange Is The New Black” than anything on network or cable.

GOOGLING

We live in a can-do culture. Where there’s no instruction booklet and no help. If you ask someone to explain, that just means you’re too lazy to Google, and you’re ignored.

JOHN LEGERE/T-MOBILE

Elon Musk may be our technical genius, but John Legere is our marketing genius. If you’re not number one, you’ve got to do it a different way, you’ve got to break rules. If you’re not a major, don’t imitate the major, it’s death.

LADY GAGA

Broke the number one rule…IT’S ABOUT THE MUSIC!

COMMERCIALISM

When everybody’s selling out, that’s when you shouldn’t.

~~~


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2 Responses to “Lefsetz’ Scorecard”

  1. NoKidding says:

    Labels have a place as gatekeepers.

    The post Napster difference is that I’ll never buy a Taco tape to listen to Putin on the Ritz.

    Napster (and iTunes) assume that songs can be owned by the listener. I don’t need to own the song, I just want to hear it once in a while. Thus the successor is Pandora. Give me the songs I like, and guess which new ones I want. I’ll pay by the hour for the service, not a product.

  2. Joe says:

    Always food for thought. i just wish I was less stuck with the way things were….