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THE LEFSETZ LETTER: Branding?!? "EPIC RECORDS President CHARLIE WALK has named ANDY GERSHON the label's Exec. VP. In his new role, GERSHON will play an essential role in expanding and diversifying EPIC's roster, covering all genres of music. And as EPIC continues to evolve from a traditional record label into a brand-building music company, GERSHON will help lead in building a new, creative economic model for the music company."

A band is not a BRAND!

The Pussycat Dolls are a brand, but when you break the shell and get to the center all you get is nougat, and no SOUL!

When the hell did the music business get so corporate? And where did they find the wannabe MBA pricks TO RUN IT!

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.

Rather than poring over "Advertising Age" these guys should read a BOOK! Know that to have a successful novel you've got to have a plot, got to TOUCH PEOPLE!

They used to call it the MUSIC business. But now it's just business. God, these guys could be selling ANYTHING! Crap just as evanescent as the hula-hoop, but not remembered for as long…

Marketing is the number one criterion today, not the tunes. How it sounds is secondary to the attack, how one plans to crack the market. It's kind of like our government. Let's swing our dicks and topple Saddam. BUT THEN WHAT??

Have you ever heard someone wax rhapsodic about TIDE? THAT'S a brand. The Beatles were a BAND! It's not about the peripheral chozzerai, but the MUSIC ITSELF!

The music is its OWN brand. The music should be able to speak IRRELEVANT of what the players look like, irrelevant of the sell.

The old executives knew this. They searched for excellence. Look at A&M, they didn't sign the same vapid pop crap again and again, just a wide variety of stuff that SOUNDED GOOD! Same deal with Bob Krasnow's Elektra.

Can you blame Charlie Walk? He grew up in the eighties. When it was about getting your video on television and blowing it up. Paying complicit radio stations to play along. The game was more important than the act.

Hell, you only know what you're exposed to.

In other words, there's no hope for the institutions. The people in charge just don't understand, they're blind. They need to be retrained, reeducated. They've got it all topsy-turvy. They think the SYSTEM eclipses the ACT!

What the HELL is wrong with a TRADITIONAL record label? A traditional record label finds great music and sells it. It's a FILTER! That's its primary role. A seal of approval. Bringing great stuff to the masses.

Ain't that a laugh.

Remember when if it wasn't on a major label you weren't interested?

Now if it's ON a major label you're not interested! What kind of lame, soulless person would put his music in the hands of the man?

God, even SNL goes with indie acts now.

The brand is the name, the LOGO! It's not what's contained THEREIN!

And even the BEST brands are INANIMATE! You don't want to take your BMW to bed. You don't want to park it in your hospital room. It can't phone you at night and calm you down, soothe you.

But MUSIC can achieve all of the foregoing. MUSIC is a companion, a friend that's THERE FOR YOU!

But too much of what is sold today doesn't fit these criteria. What's on the disc, in the file, is just a cog in an extended money machine. With an endless chain of cigar-chomping fat cats no better than appliance salesmen taking their cut. Used to be an HONOR to sell music. Now it's for CHUMPS!

The younger generation is not the same as those running the labels. They NEVER lived through good radio. MTV's been a joke their whole lives. Music discovery on the Net is a WAY OF LIFE! When the RIAA companies say they should do it the old way they don't even laugh, THEY'RE NOT PAYING ATTENTION!

If you're building brands, go work for Procter & Gamble.

If you love music, find an act you adore and just get their sound down. That's enough. If it's good, people will find it and want to own it. It will be an oasis in a vast sea of overhyped crap. It will float to the surface.

It's time to strip away the armor, the crap that's been laid on music over the past two decades. But you've got those at the labels trying to add MORE! And you wonder why their numbers are so horrific, why they're GOING OUT OF BUSINESS!

Yup, find someone beautiful and make a deal with V-Cast. Keep working those synergies. Make me puke.