THE LEFSETZ LETTER: Then/Now

THEN


People had car trouble.


NOW


If someone tells you they’re not coming because their car won’t start, you don’t believe them.


THEN


Your computer crashed, you feared the Blue Screen Of Death.


NOW


Your computer goes months without ever crashing, and you barely turn it on anyway, only for work, because you’re addicted to your tablet and smartphone.


THEN


Superstars took a year to make an album and it sold for three years.


NOW


Superstars take a year to make an album, and they’re essentially dead on arrival. The faithful buy them and THEN

they’re done. And everybody complains the business sucks and it ain’t what it used to be when the truth is there are five hundred TV channels and YouTube and nothing gets the mindshare it did before.


THEN


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.

Concert tickets were three, four and five dollars. The bands drove in station wagons and getting high and getting laid were the goal.


NOW


Concert tickets cost triple digits, the bands want to fly private and your money goes to buying houses and cars and other assets as the band tries to keep up with the truly rich, which they no longer are.


THEN


The goal was to work at a record label.



NOW


The goal is to work at Apple.


THEN


You bugged your parents for your own Princess phone in your bedroom.


NOW


You can’t remember the last time you spoke on the phone.


THEN


Gas was pumped for you and you went inside to get maps.


NOW


You pump your own gas and maps are on your phone.


THEN


You went to the record store and plotted what albums you were going to buy in the future.


NOW


You can listen to everything for free online and the thrill of new is gone, Now

it’s solely about what is great. The concept of buying something and finding out it sucks is passe.


THEN


You were constantly returning records to the store for scratches, skips and warps.


NOW


There are no stores and there is no returning.


THEN


The deejay was the most trusted person in the music universe.


NOW


The deejay is a joke, sold out to the man with no personality, playing drivel that only ten year olds would sit through.



THEN


It was all about record sales.


NOW


It’s all about tickets.


THEN


You could only buy the t-shirt at the gig, so you did, to appear special.


NOW


T-shirts are everywhere and not quite meaningless, but far from meaningful.


THEN


You sat down and listened to the music, in aural bliss, you only stood during the encore.


NOW


You stand throughout the gig, get jostled by your neighbors and get beer spilled upon you, all in the name of feeling the music.


THEN


You woke up early to wait in line to buy tickets.


NOW


You go on StubHub weeks after the on-sale to overpay for good seats.


THEN


You went to a show every month.


NOW


You go to a show once or twice a year.


THEN


There was live music in bars.



NOW


You listen to deejays in bars.


THEN


Mainstream media was clueless as to music.


NOW


Every publication covers the scene and tries to look hip.


THEN


Acts were unreachable


NOW


If your favorite act isn’t on Twitter and you don’t think you have access, you’re angry.


THEN


There was upward mobility in the music industry.


NOW


The baby boomers don’t want to let you take their jobs.


THEN


The Beatles were the biggest act in the business.


NOW


Paul McCartney is the biggest act in the business.


THEN


The Rolling Stones couldn’t sell a record.


NOW


The Rolling Stones can’t sell a record.



THEN


Clive Davis was telling us how powerful he was.


NOW


Clive Davis is telling us how powerful he was.


THEN


The labels screwed the artists.


NOW


The labels screw the artists.


THEN


Acts were unsophisticated.


NOW


Everybody’s an expert, they read Passman’s book, they’re savvy.


THEN


Security at the gig was like us, just beefier.


NOW


Security is the enemy.


THEN


You went to make the scene.


NOW


You go to make the scene at the electronic music show, it’s too expensive to go to any other gig on a lark.


THEN


Arenas eclipsed theatres, the acts were just too big, demand was just too great.



NOW


Most acts can’t sell out arenas, other than classic rock acts and the occasional superstar, acts play theatres.


THEN


You wanted to sleep with Stevie Nicks.


NOW


You don’t want to sleep with Taylor Swift, she’ll write a song about you.


THEN


We paid a fortune for hi-def sound systems.


NOW


We pay a middling sum to hear compressed versions of our favorites via earbuds.


THEN


Top Forty radio played the best of everything.


NOW


Top Forty radio…who listens to Top Forty radio, isn’t that just a subset of urban with the occasional Mumford & Sons or Lumineers track?


THEN


FM was hip.


NOW


We don’t even listen to AM, certainly not for music.


THEN


We learned computer dating didn’t work, the matches sucked.


NOW


People flock to Pandora, even though the matches suck.


THEN


Auto sound sucked and home sound was great.


NOW


Auto sound is great and most people don’t even own a home stereo.


THEN


You dreamed of being a rock star.


NOW


They call anybody rich a rock star. Whereas the rock stars of yore were about freedom, of both lifestyle and expression, we flocked to them. The only thing memorable about these new “rock stars” is their money.


THEN


You wore your street clothes on stage.


NOW


Fashion is a key element of show business, even though the richest people in America, the techies, wear hoodies and sneakers.


THEN


Acts took risks, artistic chances.


TODAY


Everybody plays it safe.


THEN


You wrote your own material, songs were straight from the heart of the writer/player/singer to the audience.


NOW


Every song is written by the same people, and personality is absent.


THEN


You had to be able to sing to make it.


NOW


You’ve got to be willing to whore yourself out to make it. And those with bad voices believe they’re entitled to success.


THEN


Our best acts were on weekly TV, on “Ed Sullivan” and “In Concert.”


NOW


Our worst acts are on TV, on “American Idol,” “The Voice” and “X Factor.”


THEN


Game shows were during the day.
NOW


Talent contests are at night.


THEN


You had to have talent to make it.


NOW


You have to have desire to make it.


THEN


You got your license at 16.


NOW


You can live without your driver’s license.


THEN


Your parents were the enemy.


NOW


Your parents are your best friends.


THEN


Republicans were about personal freedom.


NOW


Republicans want to tell you how to live your life.


THEN


Democrats were about erecting a Great Society.


NOW


Democrats are pussies who are afraid of alienating their donors.


THEN


You wanted to be President.


NOW


Who’d want to be President?
THEN


Sports stars were just like us.


NOW


Sports stars are nothing like us. Hell, they’re richer than musicians!


THEN


You rarely flew anywhere.


NOW


You’ll fly halfway across the country for a concert.


THEN


Winter was endless and miserable.


NOW


You wear your shorts in the winter.


THEN


If you screwed up in school, your parents chewed you out.


NOW


If you screw up in school, your parents chew out the administration.


THEN


You went to college to learn.


NOW


You go to college to earn.


THEN


We were all in it together.


NOW


It’s every man for himself.

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