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THE LEFSETZ LETTER: Distribution Is King

If you can't buy it, if you can't see it, if you can't experience it…

It doesn't matter how good it is.

That's what the authors are truly railing against in the Amazon/Hachette war, that their books have been relegated to second-class citizens.

There's a fiction being spread that content is king. That's a complete fallacy, distribution is king. Sure, successful content creators may gain fame, but usually the money lands with the distributor. That's how the majors became majors, because of distribution. Their pipeline not only made sure their product was in stores and featured, but that they got paid!

So the world is controlled by the faceless while the people out front get screwed. Oh, the company makes you famous, if you play ball. If you don't, you're George Michael, your hits dry up and whatever publicity you get is about anything but the music.

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.

Apple is certainly a manufacturer and a software creator, but it's also a distributor, the company decides what gets into the App Store. And also controls iTunes Store real estate.

Facebook decides what you get to see on your page. That's right, you don't have much control. Maybe if you paid, but there's much more money in being a distributor of advertising than charging users who've become inured not to pay.

And now we've got Amazon, the consumer's "friend," tightening its grip upon distribution. That's the issue. Once you control the final sale, you get to decide what is purveyed and at what price.

As Bob Dylan would say, we're just pawns in their game.

Wal-Mart devoured Main Street.

Napster devoured record stores. Just because you can buy a vinyl record at your local emporium, that does not make YouTube and Spotify's power any less. Yup, while you're celebrating the old format, overpaying for the privilege, the digital distributors aren't even paying attention.

So don't believe everything you read. And question not only authority, but preconceptions.

Distribution has always been king. From the Gold Rush, wherein merchants who sold to miners oftentimes got richer than the diggers, to today, when he who controls the pipes wins.

Ever wonder why your cable bill is so high, why those companies roll in dough, why Comcast eats and devours everything in its path?

That's the power of DISTRIBUTION!