Posts filed under “Music”

Lefsetz’ Scorecard


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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


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


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Category: Music, Think Tank, Weekend

Jetsetter Jazz & the Persuasive Sounds of Nutty

Nutty is a bizarre mash up of swingin’ jazz and crooning classic rock, with a healthy dollop of big band swing.

The result is a unique hybrid of lyrics, melody, musical hooks. Nutty’s arrangements have been called “musical martinis that are spiked, shaken and stirred.” It’s so much more than, simply, “jazzy versions of classic rock hits” — its irreverent, humorous, and sassy.

If you are into music and fond of mashups, then check out the band Nutty.

Here’s a blend of Henry Mancini’s Pink Panther with Jimi Hendrix’ Purple Haze:


And here is Dave Brubeck’s Take Five with The Moody Blue’s Nights in White Satin:

Hat tip: “James Kraus, author of iBooks cookbook Jet Age Cooking for the Bachelor Gourmet.” His writing ties in with Nutty’s Jetsetter Jazz sound.

More info after the jump

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Category: Friday Night Jazz, Music, Weekend


I smell money! I’ve been flying all over the world listening to an ever-decreasing number of old farts lamenting the music business ain’t what it used to be. That the kids have stolen all the music, that you just can’t get paid. And then I come to Las Vegas and find out we’re experiencing a…Read More

Category: Music, Think Tank, Weekend

Chrissie Hynde: Stockholm




I was a monster Pretenders fan back in the day. Their first album, Pretenders, is in the running for the greatest debut album ever. Its great rock and roll, with brilliant songwriting, sly and lovely melodies, ALL belied by the raucous punk production. It was the first album I ever saw that had the words PLAY LOUD on the cover. Now that’s a recording ethos I can get into.

If you have even the slightest doubt that their under-rated melody was the secret sauce of the Pretenders, check out the live acoustic album Isle of View recorded with a string quarter backing the Hynde instead of electric guitars and bass. Its just brilliant.

Yeah, I had a crush on her — I loved her rawness, the way she moaned Hmmmm, how she spat out lyrics, both plaintive (No, I’ll never feel Like a man in a man’s world) and nasty (I shot my mouth off, and you showed me what that hole was for). The power trio behind her was killer, and they could play soft if they wanted to (See Lovers of Today, or their cover of Ray Davie’s Stob Your Sobbing, both on the debut album). Hynde’s voice could range from tough as nails to crushingly vulnerable; her unique phrasing perfectly fit the music she crafted. Musically, everything about The Pretenders just worked.

I’ve always wanted to see a bio pic of the Pretenders, with Gina Gershon cast as Chrissie Hynde. Not me, baby, I’m too precious, I had to fuck off.


Soundcloud has two full songs, plus Chrissie discussing how the album came about (below).


Dark Sunglasses


You or No One





Her website is at

Stream full album at Soundcloud

Review of Stockholm by The Guardian

Chrissie Hynde, Minus the Pretenders (NYT)

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Category: Friday Night Jazz, Music, Weekend

Jack Johnson at Jones Beach 6.7.14

* JJ Blue


Long time readers know I am huge Jack Johnson fan — especially those first three albums – Brushfire Fairytales (2001), On And On (2003) and In Between Dreams (2005). (Start with the first one, and if you like it keep going).

We saw him play MSG in 2010 — and the music got lost in that venue (good photos though). Even though Mrs. Big Picture is a big fan, after the Garden show she had to be talked into going to see him again.

This weekend, he played Jones Beach — and it was phenomenal. We also had great seats (the photo above is from the crappy camera on an iPhone 5). It was just the right vibe for a laid back surfer dude singer songwriter. Open air theater, on the Great South Bay, less than a 1000 yards from the Atlantic Ocean.

If ever a venue and an artist were perfectly matched, this show was it! He should (liek James Taylor does) make this a regular stop on his tours.

If you have never seen a show at Jones Beach, it is highly recommended.
JJ JB setlist
Source: Setlist.FM


A Different Kind of Top 10 Music List For 2004 (December 24th, 2004)
A Different Kind of Music List: The Anti-”Best of 2005″ (December 29th, 2005)
Jack Johnson: Sleep Through The Static (February 12th, 2008)
Jack Johnson, MSG July 14, 2010 (July 15th, 2010)
Jack Johnson Photos from MSG Show (August 3rd, 2010)

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Category: Music, Weekend


“Why Uber just might be worth it at $18 billion‘ It’s all anybody talks about, other than Airbnb. This exalted status used to be occupied by music. How did this happen? Interestingly, Travis Kalanick, Uber’s majordomo, used to be in the file-trading business, with a company called Scour, you know how that turned out, the…Read More

Category: Music, Venture Capital, Weekend


1. Sales count. They’re almost as irrelevant as the old billboards on the Sunset Strip, they’re a way to stroke the egos of the players involved. It’s no longer whether someone buys your album, but whether they listen to it, that’s the relevant metric that everybody seems to ignore as they trumpet the anemic, irrelevant…Read More

Category: Music, Think Tank, Weekend

Whole Lotta Love

Back when music didn’t require autotune: “In late 1968, Led Zeppelin began pioneering a heavier, more metallic-sounding form of rock geared for FM radio’s new album-oriented stereo format. By combining a slashing electric guitar and wailing vocals with a rhythmic bass and locomotive drums, the band quickly became the darlings of better stereo systems and…Read More

Category: Friday Night Jazz, Music, Weekend

Fender Chases Star Power to Sell Guitars

Fender is the world’s largest manufacturer of guitars. But the recession, inexpensive manufacturers and the shift toward synthesizers and drum machines have threatened Fender’s profit margins. See also In Search of Star Power, Fender Enlists Members of U2

Category: Music, Weekend

Money Doesn’t Talk, It Swears

Happy Birthday Bob Dylan!     How Bob Dylan’s message in ‘It’s Alright, Ma’ applies to the investment business. Darkness at the break of noon Shadows even the silver spoon The handmade blade, the child’s balloon Eclipses both the sun and moon To understand you know too soon There is no sense in trying…. Old lady…Read More

Category: Investing, Music