THE LEFSETZ LETTER: Sheryl Crow's Dell Commercial

This is why I don't watch television. It's evidence of a culture so into fame and bucks that my values of honesty and integrity appear to be worthless chump change.

Who do we blame for this? Sheryl, Jimmy or Scooter?

Can't be Scooter. He's just not that sharp. Can't imagine Scooter even getting Michael Dell on the telephone. Hell, he'd have to camp out in front of the building for a month just to get an audience.No, this has the stamp of Jimmy Iovine all over it. And you know Sheryl approved it. There's NOTHING this woman will say no to. Not a gig, not an endorsement, she's more addicted to the public eye than the Simpson girls. To think that she was once a credible artist is a head-spinner. How did she get so WARPED?


Bob Lefsetz, Santa Monica-based industry legend, is the author of the e-mail newsletter, "The Lefsetz Letter". Famous for being beholden to no one, and speaking the truth, Lefsetz addresses the issues that are at the core of the music business: downloading, copy protection, pricing and the music itself.

His intense brilliance captivates readers from Steven Tyler to Rick Nielsen to Bryan Adams to Quincy Jones to music business honchos like Michael Rapino, Randy Phillips, Don Ienner, Cliff Burnstein, Irving Azoff and Tom Freston.

Never boring, always entertaining, Mr. Lefsetz's insights are fueled by his stint as an entertainment business attorney, majordomo of Sanctuary Music's American division and consultancies to major labels.

Bob has been a weekly contributor to CelebrityAccess and Encore since 2001, and we plan many more years of partnership with him. While we here at CelebrityAccess and Encore do not necessarily agree with all of Bob's opinions, we are proud to help share them with you.


Dell is not cool. Not in any way. Dell is about as cool as Hyundai. A rock bottom price for something functional. There's no design innovation, just boring boxes. There's no technical innovation, god they piggyback on Microsoft, the inept lumbering giant that ultimately makes the computers Dell purveys unusable because of adware, viruses and spyware. God, if Bin Laden bought time on network TV would Sheryl Crow agree to appear in HIS commercials? Think of it. We're HUMANIZING the Taliban. My participation illustrates they've got a heart. We have to play along with the enemy instead of constantly labeling him.

I won't exactly say Dell is the enemy, but the company is as sexy as a urinal. Give U2 props, at least the iPod is cool. Even though they're desperate and counseled by Jimmy Iovine too. But DELL??

What exactly are you saying here Sheryl, how exactly are we supposed to interpret this appearance? I'm over forty and nobody will play my music so I have to resort to this cheap shot? God, the paradigm was established by Sting, but until they cheapened the brand with those lame Jaguar X-types that are really Fords Jaguar was COOL! Who wouldn't want to own a Jaguar? God, did that company ever run an ad featuring a doofus saying "Dude, you're getting a JAGUAR??"

I'm not a big fan of "Tuesday Night Music Club" but I thought "The Globe Sessions" was one of the best albums of the year. And as recently as 2000, she was playing the heartfelt "Safe and Sound".

But heartfelt works no more. Sheryl had to get a facelift, to soften her image, she can't be a blues mama like Bonnie Raitt. She resorted to cutting ditties like "Soak Up The Sun" instead of meaningful music. Is that how far we've come? That it's ONLY about fame? ONLY about being in the public eye? ONLY about money?

I'm close enough to know that money and fame don't make a life. That being in the public eye doesn't mean you're happy, not that they're mutually exclusive, then again, pound for pound, I've found celebrities to be LESS happy than the hoi polloi.

That's what Sheryl Crow has become. A celebrity. She USED to be a musician. But that wasn't good enough for her.

How in the hell did a music teacher from Missouri end up being a poster girl for American consumerism? Is Sheryl really starring in a real life "What Makes Sammy Run"?

As for Jimmy Iovine…

We're supposed to revere you because you can broker a deal like this? Because you can make money? God, maybe like Chuck Colson you should see the error of your ways and dedicate your life to religion, to HELPING people.

That's what's wrong with America. Adults playing a boys game. Participating in a competition wherein he who dies with the most toys win. Immaturity on parade.

This business was built on artists exhibiting honest values. The PUBLIC resonating with honest values.

A person watching this Sheryl Crow ad immediately thinks of the "W" word. That she did it for the money and the exposure.

When is the entertainment business going to wake up and realize the audience is SOPHISTICATED? That it knows the GAME?

Meanwhile, the Media PC Sheryl is hawking… An overpriced, useless piece of crap. About as significant in the marketplace as Microsoft Plays For Sure subscription MP3 players.

But that doesn't matter.

What only matters is that Sheryl Crow remain famous. And RICH!

Furthermore, instead of focusing on marketing opportunities, she should have written a better song. That's what we're selling, music, right?


At least the Stones don't say to take out an Ameriquest loan.

You've got to watch the "Making Of". Wherein Sheryl says "Dell has just been sort of always at the cutting edge" of getting songs out to fans. Ever hear of APPLE? Whom you ALSO hyped? This is unfettered American huckster bullshit. Makes me puke.
(Go to: SHeryl Crow @ Dell, the upper left-hand pic/icon is the commercial, the one to the right of it is the making of.)

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Greg Gillispie:

Sorry Bob, but Dell makes good products at a reasonable price. They don't need to be "cool" or "sexy," just usable and functional…and the last 2 I have purchased have been "cool" enough for me. I could have purchased basically the same thing from IBM for nearly twice the price, but who cares in this day and age?

Good is good. And Dell is good. And I didn't get paid for this email, thank you…

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Gregory Markel:

You'd think having mo' and mo' money and power would actually embolden artists to say F@##$ U to the system and to make greater and greater artistic statements outside the confines of convention, (Thank you Radiohead, Ani Defranco, Mars Volta & others), but, that's ok, it's mediocrity in comparison that makes true artists shine even brighter in our eyes, um, assuming our eyes are open, that is.

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Jim Rondinelli:

lance for HP/AMD
cheryl for DELL

what's next:

lance's kids for Gateway?
lance's ex-wife for ALIENWARE?

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Oscar Maxwell:

I've adored her first 3 albums, each of them in my mind standing on its own as something original and new for her, something that no one else was really doing quite the same at each time.

C'mon C'mon came off as being so obvious-'Soak' was the go-to summertime hit. "You're An Original" begged for a major placement (and got it from Jeep), and there was a clear lack of any redeeming tracks like 'Home', 'Strong Enough' or 'Riverwide'.

And now, to hear the new single first from a Dell tv commercial? I mean, talk about removing faith that something better could be coming down the line. Seems so corrosive.

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Ian Graham:

Funny how she was shown in an Apple promo amazed and impressed with Apple's "Garage Band" software and now feels compelled to promote this Dell crap. Money Ho! Makes me sick considering how rich she must already be! But you know she's gotta look to the future and make sure her "retirement" fund is properly taken care of. Give me a break!

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John Brodey:

She is for sale and through all her corporate gigs and endorsements it's not a stretch to throw everything at her, the ad agencies know she is open to ANY deal.

I noticed the ad and it struck me how out of touch the whole thing was. She came across as some spoiled athlete. I mean she's looking at HERSELF on the big screen. It's not her at home relaxing in an ostentatious Hollywood star crib (which lowers your credibility right off the bat), that's so bad, but it's her obvious contentment with just gazing at herself AS A FORM OF ENTERTAINMENT. She's not in an editing bay. The video is done and she can't get enough of HERSELF.

Makes sense that her best song is the one she doesn't do in the one hour greatest hits corporate gigs, Leaving Las Vegas (Favorite Mistake is a close second). She has built a career on fluff after trying to pass herself off as a serious artist. Your colors show in the end.

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Bruce Garfield:

Whether you like Dell or Macs or Carrier Pigeon, the commercial is beautifully shot and seems to show Sheryl Crow as she really is and lives as a comfortable and maturing woman.

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Adam Blake:

But Sheryl Crow is completely irrelevant, isn't she? Would you please pick on The Rolling Stones? They really irritate me. They more than anyone else symbolize the corruption and degradation of everything that they once stood for. Don't they? Ageing whores tend to lower their prices, they on the other hand, keep on raising them – and people go along with it. Why? Are they buying into a myth that hasn't been true for over 30 years? Keith Richards used to talk about doing it till he dropped, like Muddy Waters. What he seems to have overlooked is that Muddy Waters was the very personification of dignity throughout his entire career.

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Al Cafaro:

My guess is that Scooter did set this up. He and Sheryl stay very busy as you noted. Certainly Sheryl is prominent in the eyes and ears of Madison Avenue for many reasons. She has reached iconic status, Bob.
I have listened to many people carp over the years about her 'over exposure', but the fact is that her career has been on a very rare path. She has had no setbacks!! She sells records, wins Grammys, and performs in many different contexts with the best musicians in the world and always delivers. She has been underestimated by many along the way.
Insofar as this Dell thing is concerned, I'll yield to your opinion of the technology and I can't say that I have ever been a fan of seeing artists sell soap. It is always disappointing to see and hear the music co-opted. I haven't seen this commercial but I'm sure it will feel like all the others that use artists and music to sell, sell, sell. At some point we all have to undertand that music sits at the very center of American culture and that American culture reveres money above all.
Everything has to be monetized. You are thought a chump if you can't or won't sell, sell, sell. Bring a commercial endorsement to the table of any potential deal in the record business and you immediately jump to the front of the line! It's the world we inhabit. We'd all like to
believe we would make a different choice, but in the end it is just that, a personal choice. And yes, I have, and always will, great affection for Sheryl.

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David Wolter:

I find it amusing that while Sheryl is hawking Dell computers with "Intel Inside", her boyfriend Lance and his Discovery teammates are sponsored by Intel's main competitor in the processor wars – AMD. I wonder which one they use at home. Probably a Mac…

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Francois Mobasser:

It just seems incredibly narcissistic. If the choke-hold on payola is going to result in this type of alternate promotion, I'd rather have payola. The sad thing is, I actually think she's really talented…this makes me think less of her. It's uncomfortably self-promotional. At least hootie was in on the joke…and NEEDED the kick-start.

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Hudson Marquez:

She was always a whore. You just didn't notice.

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Matt Graves:

Re: Sheryl Crow and Dell

Don't forget that Sheryl also hyped Sony Connect. She did an in-air concert for a plane-load of journalists, flying from Chicago to LA, when they launched Sony Connect last year.

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John Marx:

Re: Sheryl Crow and Dell

In case nobody has noticed, radio's landscape has changed dramatically for an artist like Sheryl and if she has to accept a commercial tie-in to expose her music then so be it. Had Sting not accepted the Jaguar deal – Desert Rose would never seen the light of day and the album would have stopped dead after the first single. Personally, I thought Desert Rose was a great song and I would never have been exposed to it were it not for the commercial .

Sheryl has never chosen money first. She has turned down many more sponsorship opportunities than you or anyone else could imagine. In fact, she accepted the Dell deal when there were several other more profitable deals on the table; I know because we did the deal. It wasn't about the money it was about getting the music out there.

Sheryl isn't trying to be "cool". She's loves writing and performing and having people enjoy what she does. Is there really something so inherently wrong with that?

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