THE LEFSETZ LETTER: Using YouTube

FREQUENCY


You cannot win if you do not play. (Did you catch the Steve Forbert reference?) Don't be afraid. Dip not only your toe in the water, but your whole body. Reluctance is so last century. You've got to create on a regular basis. Once a week at least, once a day is totally fine. Don't think of it as reaching people, but working out your kinks. It's the beginning of your 10,000 hours. The cycle is so fast these days, and everybody's so overwhelmed with input and time-limited, that your lame work will go unnoticed, the way the "Harlem Shake" is already history. As for people discovering your lame-o's down the line, you should only be so lucky!


WHAT


Everything. Originals, cover tunes. Acoustic versions of electric tunes. Electric versions of acoustic tunes. With unlimited bandwidth, you are not restricted. Studio time used to be expensive, you demoed and oftentimes got it wrong in the recording, whether because you were uptight or unduly influenced by a producer. Your goal is to get comfortable in front of the camera. And to keep


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.

experimenting until you find something that works. The record industry has got it totally wrong, it thinks it's about perfection when truly it's all about warts. You want to first and foremost be relatable, embrace your imperfections and mistakes.


GOING VIRAL


Don't chase the dragon. Because it's hard to follow up, just ask Alanis Morissette. You think you want overnight success, but you really don't. You want the gradual build, you want fans to embrace you, to become invested in you. If you have overnight success, once it's done, you're toast. Can you say "Rebecca Black"? That does not mean you shouldn't follow what works. If a certain style of video gains viewers, repeat the formula. Marketing is not about being on every platform, screaming your way into people's hearts, or not. Rather marketing is about research, taking chances and seeing what works and refining it and following it up.



YOU DON'T HAVE TO BE A MUSICIAN


Wake up. If you don't want to practice, if you'd rather surf the net and make videos than be holed up alone in your basement being bad, then note that there's more than one road to fame. That's the dirty little secret of today's wannabes, they don't want to be musicians, they just want to be famous. On YouTube you can let your freak flag fly, go for it.


BE CREATIVE


The punks couldn't play. Ah, that's a bit of a lie, but the Ramones were all about the conception, the Sex Pistols too. Rather than imitate what's on the radio, think about being unique. And don't be afraid to follow your instincts and stay with them. You're nobody until you're somebody.


RADIO


You can't get on it. Not unless you're signed to a major label and make Top Forty music. So forget the radio, YouTube is your radio. As it is for the younger generation. Did you see the NPD report? I don't trust research, it's inherently flawed, but if you're the kind of person who needs numbers to confirm what's right in front of your face, I hope you saw the NPD report that said Internet radio accounted for 23% of 13-35 year olds' listening time, up from 17% last year, and AM/FM dropped two points to 24%. The Internet already won, the only people who don't know it are the old farts, who listen to the Internet 13% of the time and AM/FM 41%. It couldn't be written any clearer. Until record labels are run by twenty year olds, they will continue to tumble into darkness, they'll get the message last.


PRETTY


That's not the only way to engage viewers. Charismatic is even better. You can display your whole identity in a YouTube clip. You can try on other identities. You're not limited to sound. Today's stars are not two-dimensional, they display every facet of their identity. Do it if you want to last.


LASTING


The faster the ascent, the faster the descent.



CAREER


Don't equate YouTube success with a career. Just like those old sitcom stars can't get arrested (actually, they do, their mugshots are all over the web), YouTube fame is evanescent, here today and gone tomorrow. Just because you've got a million views, that does not mean you should drop out of school, you'll probably never get a million views again.


MUSIC


Singles are obvious, but singles rarely lead to a career. More cerebral music, which takes longer to identify with and spread, leads to careers. So if you're interested in a career, get ready to be frustrated. You're going to grow very slowly. But now, you're building a catalog on YouTube, and you own it!


ROAD


That's the mantra, go on the road, prove it and earn it fan by fan. The only problem is there's nowhere to play. Screw fighting for opening slots to play to twelve people who don't care. If you catch fire on YouTube, the whole world is your potential audience. Sure, if you get traction, you'll eventually have to go on the road and develop your chops. But Bieber broke on YouTube, not in a damp, dark clubs. Sure, it's great if you've built a road base. But that's for old farts and hippie bands. Today's youngsters know it's all about being connected. And you connect online. That's where you start. Offline comes LAST!


ORGANIC


Don't dun your friends to spread the word. You're gonna burn them out before you've even figured out what it is you're doing. Better to woodshed and then when your avocation comes up in conversation on the couch, in a bar, pull up your phone or laptop and show people what you're doing, they'll be interested, and if you're good, they'll spread the word. Would you go to a club sans shower and the appropriate clothing? Of course not! Then why would you expect your substandard video to go viral!


MONEY


It's there. And it's all yours. It depends on views. If you're truly mercenary, focus on getting subscribers. Who'll watch everything you do. But don't worry about fans until you truly have something clickworthy.


EQUIPMENT


You've got a smartphone, right? That's all you need. Some of the best records of all time were cut live to tape with mistakes in place. Capture lightning in a bottle. Ever see two identical lightning bolts? Hell, you can't even remember how every one looked! You just remember the emotional experience, how you felt when you saw them and heard the resultant thunder. That's the business you're in, connecting with people emotionally. And that's all about letting loose and taking chances.


THE MODEL


This is the new model. Forget everything you once knew. Albums, cycles, they're totally toast. An artist today is constantly creating and constantly in the public eye. He doesn't bitch that he can't sell records, that the old model is broken, rather he explores the new avenues where money is available to be made. Piracy? Rip-offs? Imitation? That's your greatest desire! Content ID will make it so you profit off all the imitators who cover your music! You don't want to hold it close to the vest, you want to open it up to everybody. Which reminds me, ALWAYS SAY YES! You're gonna get ripped-off anyway. The courts are an expensive and slow way to protect rights you probably can't. If there are no barriers to piracy, let people do what they want. This does not mean you can't sell tracks, can't profit from streaming, but if you think you're in control of your work today, you don't have a fan base. Your efforts are just fodder, starter material for others to bake their own bread. They'll give you credit if you don't antagonize them. And they'll give you their money too. People like to pay those they believe in. Foster belief and you'll get paid. Phony is history, like the deejays on terrestrial radio, if you're playing to everybody, afraid to offend anyone, you're playing to nobody. You want viewers, you want fans, make it easy, don't put up barriers.

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