THE LEFSETZ LETTER: Celebrities

You see Tommy Mottola got us into the celebrity game.

When Tommy perfected his over the top diva paradigm it was a different era. It was before the internet.

There's a shadow society. Everybody in mainstream media hates it. You see, the public now has its OWN media, and is talking amongst itself CONSTANTLY, with greater impact and reach than the MAINSTREAM media.

Did you see that story in the "New York Times"? (New York Times Article) If they
interview somebody for a story now and that person doesn't like what they read, they print the entire interview, they give their side on their website/blog. Suddenly, the public can see how the media works. The games it plays. Like propping up no-talent "singers" as the second coming.


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.

Yes, I switched from print to music, but it's all the same. It's no longer a top-down game. It's no longer besuited men and women on the thirty-third floor pulling the strings. Now the PUBLIC pulls the strings. And the crybaby millionaires don't like it.

Used to be celebrities were iconized, they were FAMOUS!

But now we've got complete idiots starring in reality TV shows with nothing being exuded but their visage. They're famous for being famous. Credit MTV. A friend ran into a "Real World" "cast member" at a restaurant. As a WAITER! You see MTV made all the money, not the person on screen.

And MTV is a sister company to Paramount. Of the tanking movie business. Why see a crummy picture? Used to be insiders knew if there was no review in the paper on opening day, a film sucked. And the studios didn't care, because the teeming masses DIDN'T READ THE PAPER!

But every member of the teeming masses has a cell phone. Movie grosses go down from Friday to Saturday for a lousy picture. What with cells, SideKicks, e-mail, blogs… The media world is no longer an insider's paradise, EVERYBODY'S AN INSIDER!

Everybody can make a movie. Just buy an iBook and a four hundred dollar video camera. Sure, you can only get distribution on the web, not in theatres, but what happens when all distribution IS ON the web? And the majors have to compete with the true indies, with only their marketing dollars/prowess helping them out? Then it will be like the MUSIC BUSINESS!

You can make a record on that same iBook. But, distribution of music is already HERE on the web. The number of files traded in a month far exceeds those sold on disc in a YEAR! Once again, all the mainstream purveyors have is the power of hype.

But now, there's a backlash against that hype.

IDJ might be thrilled they got Mariah on "Rockin' New Year's Eve", but if the company had been smart, they would have kept her off. Because the web spin is she's a COW!

Yes, it's all over the boards. It's in my e-mail. Her image took a huge HIT!

You see celebrities are now to be made FUN OF! It's a topsy-turvy world, it's the fifties no more. If you're constantly in our face, getting plastic surgery, spewing inanities, there's going to be a BACKLASH! And this is rough if your business is based on creating stars.

A music star is someone who performs.

Ashlee Simpson doesn't perform. Nor do Hilary and Lindsay. Because EVERYBODY knows that you can auto-tune a vocal. God, every musician/producer worth his salt has SAID SO IN INTERVIEWS! Which are broadcast ALL OVER THE WEB! The public knows it's a SHAM!

They know 50 Cent doesn't write the music.

Sure, little girls idolize the young teen stars. And people want to dance to the beats of Fitty's records. But they just don't believe in them. Fitty? Ask a net denizen about his wild weight fluctuations. Yeah, for a man who's been shot endlessly and isn't afraid to die he seems quite vain.

The old game is dead. Look at the sales numbers of the big acts. The RIAA used to issue DIAMOND certifications. For sales of TEN MILLION CDs! Seen one of those lately?

No, the only way out is to go in the OPPOSITE DIRECTION! Undersell.

Instead of an act saying it's god, or being sold as god, an act should be purveyed as being flawed to BEGIN WITH! To blunt the
backlash. I mean why beat up on somebody who's just like YOU?

And, there can't be overhype/oversell. No matter WHO IT IS, the public doesn't want to be BOMBARDED by them. They'll hate the act, talk trash about it, just to demonstrate they have power, and their mindspace can't be abused.

Oh, we're going back to the days of talent. The customer DEMANDS IT!

You've got to TRULY be able to perform. You've got to be able to sing and/or play without help. And, if you want to be REALLY
successful, you've got to sing from the heart, what you believe. Everybody knows that Hilary and Lindsay don't write the songs. Hell, they don't believe Mariah writes them EITHER!

But the new model doesn't fit the old financial game. Of creating instant superstars, which go multiplatinum in a year. The majors say it's about downloading. They've got half of it right. It IS about the internet. But it's not about stealing. It's about taking control. As dramatically as when cable exploded the box to three hundred channels and everybody got a remote control.

The CD is heading into the dirt like a Chinese rocket. Nothing can stop it. Certainly not the pronouncements of aged executives clinging to a bygone era.

The future will be ruled by people who know all the above. Who RESPECT the audience. Who don't talk down to people. Who don't
fight for the mainstream, but play in their own little bubble. That's what Phish did. And the reason Trey is doing poorly today is he was too stupid to know this. Phish FANS don't like the way he treated them, willy-nilly. Fans want to be treated as partners.

Either do this, or expect their wrath.

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