THE LEFSETZ LETTER: Bronfman On Jobs

You don't mess with John Lennon.

During the Super Bowl, Felice's 18 year old nephew and his UCLA buddy asked me what topic I was going to discuss on KLSX later that night. I asked them for suggestions. Blake said "THE iPHONE!" Digging deeper, I found that both had spent nearly two hours watching Jobs' Macworld speech and NEITHER owned A SINGLE APPLE PRODUCT!

But they aspired to. Blake said his next computer would be a Mac. "Have you ever tried one?" He said no, but he was ready to switch.

And I asked these two kids with Sidekicks if they'd lay down five hundred bucks for an iPhone… And they said AS SOON AS IT CAME OUT!

Wow, if only they had this passion about bands.


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.

Everywhere I go, all the under twentysomethings want to talk about is Steve Jobs. And, if they've got the dough, which Luca and Blake are amassing, they drop it all on Apple equipment. And then tell EVERYBODY HOW GREAT IT IS!

Lisa's fifteen year old son Alex. He worked all summer to buy a computer. He had it all picked out, a PC for gaming. But now that Macs have Intel Inside, he was convinced to buy a MacBook. Which he plugs his guitar into so he can create his own tunes with GarageBand, which he doesn't stop testifying is light years better than a PC. HE had me going for an entire Chinese dinner about the iPhone and every other product Apple has in its lineup.

Edgar Bronfman, Jr. pays me.

But I believe in Steve Jobs.

Steve Jobs is mercurial. He's not the guy you want with you in a foxhole. But he is in search of EXCELLENCE!

Yes, there are other MP3 players, but they don't look as cool, and they don't work as seamlessly, as the iPod. I mean LOOK at the Zune, would YOU want to carry one around, in BROWN?

My MacPro computer with its 23" HD screen makes my dick hard every time I walk by it. Because it's so BEAUTIFUL!

And it's never ever crashed, not a single time.

We Americans are looking for something to believe in. We can't believe in politicians. And we can't believe in the whored out musicians. But we can believe in Steve Jobs. The seemingly uncompromised guru who won't do just anything for a buck.

The labels wanted to raise the price at the iTunes Store?

Steve gave them the middle finger. Even though he could have blamed the price increase on them. Maybe even made more money. It just wasn't RIGHT!

Who makes decisions based on what's RIGHT anymore? I mean you do, but you've got no power. But here's a guy with ALL the money and ALL the power and he leaves all his alliances, all the CRAP, out of his decision-making process.

DRM is a joke. If Edgar Bronfman, Jr. bought his music, he'd know this.

And who is buying the music ANYWAY? That was a main point in Jobs' essay, the de minimis quantity of iTunes Store tracks on people's iPods. Couldn't Edgar Bronfman, Jr. address THIS question? With his numbers and stock cratering? I mean we're losing CD sales at a 15% clip this year, on top of the 25% drop in the new millennium, and although it's an income generator, online sales are a fraction of those acquired, but really, the problem is that pesky Steve Jobs, stirring the pot, screwing up our business!

Last time I checked, Steve Jobs created that business that's allowing Warner to book $100 million in digital revenue. And Edgar's the guy who sold Universal to a crook and lost the company.

Edgar should take heed from his old lieutenants, Doug and Zach. They almost NEVER go on record. It's like Marie Antoinette holding court, there's no UPSIDE!

Edgar last went so public decrying Napster. If only there was a legal Napster, then we wouldn't be IN THIS SITUATION!

The public has moved on. Edgar is speaking to the analysts at best.

The public LOVES music. But it doesn't want to buy it on discs, and it doesn't want to pay a buck for a copy-protected track.

Let me put it this way… Imagine if digital photos were copy-
protected, and you couldn't e-mail them to friends, couldn't post them on the Web. Then you'd have not only no Flickr, but probably no MySpace.

It's the free exchange of the product that's building all the revenue. It's the USABILITY that's expanding how and where music is used.

New businesses are built on this new technology. But no, the labels want to stay in the twentieth century. Based on the numbers, that doesn't appear to be too good a plan.

People should pay for music.

But most aren't.

THAT'S the problem, not whether there's DRM or not.

Figure out how to make everybody a music consumer, and charge them for the privilege. Don't try to maintain your old business model. Especially when you're now selling singles for a buck instead of albums for more than ten dollars. Any economist will tell you that's a road to economic disaster.

The execs are their own team. The public is with JOBS!

In a world of perception, where an act's image and cred are just as important as their music, you'd think Edgar would realize he can't battle Jobs. But he keeps trying to pick a fight.

Very soon one of the majors is going to go DRM-free. THEN what will Edgar say. Suddenly, his product will look inferior. He'll have to strip the copy protection, he'll have to eat his words.

If only Edgar assessed the landscape, did what was right.

What's right is more music for more people. That's what the digital revolution ALLOWS! Follow that paradigm, don't try to keep everybody back in the nineties.

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