THE LEFSETZ LETTER: Individuals Are Everything

The Doors could never replace Jim Morrison and Apple can't replace Steve Jobs.


They teach us to get along, tell us institutions are king, but the truth is America succeeds because it's the land of rugged individuals with a vision who need to do it their way.


That's one of the reasons the music business blew up. There was no other home for the hustlers who inhabited it. The roll-up of concert promoters was good financially (for some, anyway), but all the innovation comes from outside. Coachella was started by independents. All of the big festivals, from ACL to Bonnaroo to Lollapalooza…from guys who thought different.


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.

You think Steve Jobs had edges? Try hanging with Marc Geiger, who helped birth Lollapalooza. Geiger's a bubbling froth of opinions and emotions, always talking about the bleeding edge, he may have been too far ahead with ArtistDirect but he was right, and now he's having a second act at WME, just like Steve Jobs. You see the true revolutionaries just can't help themselves, they want their ideas to be realized. Anybody can get lucky once, but if you do it twice…


Did anybody expect Apple to burgeon after the passage of Steve?


There've been enough movies since his passing to completely assassinate his character, but people love his devices and those left in charge can't seem to come up with a new one. I torched the Watch, and now Walt Mossberg has too ( http://bit.ly/1PFcTX1). And after app developers abandon it you've got a dead platform, kinda like Google Glass.


I still hope they'll get it right, because I want something to believe in, I need something to believe in. Musicians used to fulfill this role before their goal was solely riches and fame, they keep telling
us they're entitled to success, but they don't take a different road, they keep plying the one already trodden upon. Come on, did you ever hear "The End"? Who came up with that stuff? We always want new people who can come up with stuff that will surprise and amaze us.


But the millennials are all about getting along, being a member of the group. Bill Gates could barely have friends. He handed Microsoft to Steve Ballmer who nearly buried it. Buying the worthless Nokia. Only Gates could steer that ship.


We're jealous of the envelope pushers, we keep criticizing them, saying they can't get along. But they're the ones we secretly lionize.


We don't need entrepreneurship courses in college, we need to teach creativity, we need to tell people it's okay to be unique, to think different. Instead of focusing on the bullies we should look at those they attack and build them up. No one in America wants a nonconformist and then they end up supporting Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders.


Trump's a joke, born on third base with a checkered business record he thinks just because he's rich and can finance his own campaign he knows best. At least give Bernie credit, he comes from nothing and has never wavered in his views, never done what's expedient, the people have come to him. That's right, the leaders are always one step ahead, we play into their hands.


Isn't it funny that musicians abhor Spotify but it's a cutting edge techie who developed it, helping them and their listeners even if they don't know it, eviscerating piracy and paying forever, making the history of recorded music available at everybody's fingertips. That's how you know you've won, when the Luddites lost in the past get angry.


The future is coming. But it's just that half of America has decided it wants it to look like the past. Inane Democrats want manufacturing to come back to our shores and ridiculous Republicans want to get rid of the safety net and have "those people" work meanwhile wanting their Medicare protected and benefiting from a disproportionate amount of federal money given to their red states.

But that's arguing over what's been, what's in the rearview mirror, the cutting edge individual wipes the slate clean and creates something new. And he needs to get it exactly right, we all know what a horse created by committee looks like, an ass.


Sure, individuals don't triumph in a vacuum. Steve Jobs needed a team and Jim Morrison needed a band. But Avie Tevanian left Apple and the company experienced no hiccups. I'm all for paying these individual creators billions, it's when the game-playing corporate lifers ascend to the throne and pay themselves a fortune that my dander gets up. What did they build? All they can do is manage!


The "New York Times" believes its masthead is bigger than any of its reporters, but the Op-Ed page still hasn't recovered from the loss of Frank Rich and the Gray Lady is still feeling the sting of Nate Silver's absence.


Meanwhile, our society keeps looking to the organization, the political parties, the judges and the system to solve our problems.


I hate to sound like a right winger, a Libertarian, but we've got to empower those who can truly make a difference, those dedicated to their ideas who will stop at nothing to see them realized.


Tim Cook is a supply chain expert, he can never fix Apple. And Jony Ive may be a great designer, but without Steve Jobs he's nearly irrelevant. He's like a great session musician without a song.


They don't like Jeff Bezos.


They don't like Mark Zuckerberg.


They didn't like Steve Jobs.


Isn't that interesting, everybody revolutionizing our society is disliked, and all of them made tons of money but ultimately considered it to be secondary, it was about the product, the vision.


Which is why music is a backwater, we've got the spoils but no stars. Shake me up. Hell, Frank Zappa's documentary is the talk of Sundance.


Who are they gonna make a doc about today?


No one.

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