THE LEFSETZ LETTER: Modern Rules

YOU WANT A HIT


It anchors your career. There are hitmakers and everybody else. A hit just means something ubiquitous that everybody listens to, chart numbers are unnecessary. Hits can come in a flash via inspiration, but oftentimes they require a huge amount of effort and craft. Are you repeating the verses? Is the chorus singable, is there a bridge? Strive for excellence in your own chosen genre, reaching the brass ring is what it's all about.


DON'T LISTEN TO YOUR PEERS


They don't want you to be successful, that would mean they are losers. They want to keep you down in the hole they're in. Follow your dream, which is individual to you.


AMBITION


Without it, you're toast. Today's society is all about being a member of the group. Winners in art are singular. They stand alone, they endure the slings and arrows as well as reap the adulation. If you're not dreaming big in today's world, you're not dreaming at all.


PUT OLDSTER ADVICE IN PERSPECTIVE


Wisdom comes with age and experience. But don't forget the pre and post Internet eras are as different as the pre and post telephone eras. Not everything remains the same.


CREATE CONSTANTLY


There's no such thing as a cycle in today's world. Art is like life. Keep making, errors are tolerated as long as you follow them up with more work of quality. Today the key is to be remembered, because almost everything is forgotten. Don't overthink and overlabor your efforts. Raw and honest works today, and it forges a connection between you and your audience.


DON'T GET LOST MAKING A LIVING


Don't sacrifice your art to get paid, whether it be a day job or going on the road to fulfill your financial desires. Art is about sacrifice. You live on a subsistence level until you break through or you give up.


DON'T SCORN HITMAKERS, LEARN FROM THEM


Even if you don't want to cut a Katy Perry-type tune, your career would be enriched by an hour with Dr. Luke or Max Martin. They understand the game, they understand a hit.


WORK WITH THOSE WHO'VE HAD SUCCESS


Cred in a producer is secondary to track record. Work with someone who's been to the mountaintop and continues to journey there. They can give you a perspective no one else can.


COWRITE


Do it to learn, not to write a hit song. Those Nashville cats are the best in the business. Their songs might be saccharine or predictable, but they know the system. Once again, it's all about learning.


DON'T CATEGORIZE YOURSELF



They rap in country songs. Avicii put country in EDM. Feel free to incorporate your fandom into your work.


THE WINDOW OF OPPORTUNITY IS SMALL


You can only be the critics' darling for a brief period. People will only check you out once or twice, then they're done. Strike when the iron is hot.


CHANCES


People will listen to two new substandard works and then abandon you.


BODY OF WORK


It exists on Spotify. If you connect with a track, people will go deeper.


ALBUMS


Forget them. Unless you're making a concept one, a statement. They don't fit with today's world. You drop one every other year when nothing in the news lasts longer than a week, in most cases barely a day? If you have a stiff album, it'll take years to recover. Better to keep in the public eye by continuing to produce. You want to create a body of work, but it doesn't have to be in album form, after all, the term "album" initially denoted a cardboard container for 78s.


YOU'RE ONLY YOUNG ONCE


You get worn down with age, you know too much. Test the limits. Follow your exuberance. Live and create to the limit.


SCREW THE SYSTEM


Unless you're creating Top Forty hits, feel free to stand up to the powers that be. Too many businessmen, label people, agents and managers, are stuck in the old system. You can be dragged down by them, or stand up to them. This doesn't mean you've got license to be a jerk, but standing your artistic ground is an asset. But it's got to feel right to you, don't be afraid to change or take input because you abhor criticism and believe everything you do is phenomenal, no one's got that great a track record.

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