The Lefsetz Letter: An Artist


Does not give its audience what it wants, does not tell it what it wants to hear.

Is not in it for the money.

Is not a member of the group. If you're the quarterback of the football team or the head cheerleader chances are you are not an artist. An artist is a misunderstood outsider who doesn't get along with others, sorry, but it's true (see #1 above!)

Lives for feedback but hates that they do.

Is not an activist for rights they are not participating in. When you hear someone complain about streaming payouts and they've got none, beware. Pay attention to those in the game. You earn your presence in the game, until then what you say doesn't matter.


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.

Is not entitled to an income.

Speaks truth. To power, to everybody. If you're afraid of the reaction to your work and flinch and don't put it out you're a sniveling wimp, not an artist.

Knows that the audience is the ultimate arbiter. Gatekeepers are to be tolerated, at this late date critics are nearly irrelevant. If you're getting a good response you're on the right track, ignore the haters.

Knows that awards are meaningless. Sure, they're nice to get but they don't represent quality, only acknowledgement by people you probably wouldn't want to go to dinner with.

Knows chops are important, but they're no match for inspiration.

Knows that credibility is everything, if people don't believe in you, they will not believe in your work.

Looks for inspiration everywhere. The more you interact with the world, the better your art. In other words, an artist is CURIOUS!

Will take no for an answer, but will not stop creating.

Wants to give up on a regular basis, but always comes back to creating.

Is willing to sacrifice. If you want a house and a spouse and children and a cushy income art is probably not for you.

Knows when they ring the bell, which they do infrequently.

Gets better with time. Unless they've reaped huge success, then they usually get worse, because they worry about the audience's expectations and are afraid to take risks and then become slaves to their income.

Challenges norms.

Is a student of history. If you don't know how we got here, who came before, how the game works, chances are you won't succeed. You've got to learn the parameters and see where you can test limits. You want to reinvent the wheel, but not EVERY WHEEL!

Is inspired by other artists. No "Sgt. Pepper" without "Pet Sounds." You're part of a community, some of the best art is a reaction.

Lives for stimulation.

Knows how to capture lightning in a bottle. Art is not 9-5 work, it's about getting inspired and letting your freak flag fly.