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THE LEFSETZ LETTER: Live Music Action Plan

I’m positively stunned at the movie grosses. It appears that during the recession, people want cheap, escapist entertainment. But the best movie doesn’t compare with live music. Which is why we in the music industry are going to steal the movie business’ thunder, we’re going to unite and show the public the power of live music.

We’re gonna start with one night. A weeknight. A relatively dark night. A Monday or a Tuesday. On said weekday in every venue in every city there’s going to be talent, performing live, for the exact same price of a movie. Ten bucks. Paid in cash. No ticketing fees, no facility fees, no bullshit. Ten bucks.

And who is going to perform?

Let’s start in L.A. Stevie Wonder is gonna play Staples. Prince is gonna play the Hollywood Bowl. My buddy Billy Gibbons and his band ZZ Top are going to play the Nokia. Kanye West is going to play the Palladium. AND THEY’RE GOING TO DONATE THEIR SERVICES! To a good cause, the industry that pays their bills.

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.

If you want to get rich, be an athlete. Except for a few superstars, musicians are now the itinerant troubadours they’ve been for ages. Getting off on the good times, the sex and the dope. The reward is playing. The NFL might get everybody to tune into the Super Bowl, but no musical act can get that kind of coverage, that number of eyeballs, no matter how the deck is stacked. There’s endless music, and everybody’s got his own favorite, which is why we’re going to have a multitude of bands playing. But this benefit is for the business itself, to keep it alive. It’s time for this industry to do a benefit for ITSELF!

Don’t tell me about the lines, about people camping overnight, about those who can’t get in. THIS IS WHAT WE WANT! This is how you generate publicity. This is the story the press wants to cover. Much more than the endless I’m sitting in front of my computer and can’t get good seats from Ticketmaster.

Think of the heat, think of the ink, think of the publicity!

This is a big tent. We’re going to let everybody in. With the only agenda being to promote music. The Grammy Museum will be free. Mitch Bainwol will answer questions in a club. We’ve got to be accessible. If Jimmy Iovine, Lyor Cohen and Doug Morris get so much ink, how come they can’t come down and greet the people? Maybe a festival at UCLA, like the Festival of Books at the end of April, where you can meet and greet every industry player known to man. Kind of a Bonnaroo for the business. A Fan Fair.

But our primary mission is to grow live music. Plain and simple.

Concerts are too expensive. Too many shows are about choreography rather than musical excellence. We want to illustrate the sheer joy of music, naked and unadorned.

Then, every Monday night thereafter, there are going to be ten dollar concerts. Hopefully in all of these same venues. The following Monday, Van Halen plays L.A. and Metallica plays San Francisco. Maybe each act has their Guitar Hero games on display for fans to test out. We want to INCLUDE people. This business has become about EXCLUDING people. You can’t get a ticket unless you want to pay a fortune and you still can’t get up close and personal. That’s got to go.

We’re starting with stars. I know you wannabes/starting bands want a chance, you want to make it. But it’s important that we put our best foot forward. Name musicians live in every metropolis. From Miami to Minneapolis, from Detroit to Denver, Boston to Austin to New Orleans. I’m not asking much of you acts. Just get in your car and drive downtown. Better than staying home and watching television. Sure, you won’t get paid your usual fee. But do you want to make money in the future? Then you’ve got to help save the business. Music must be as accessible as movies. A whim of a decision instead of something you plan a year in advance.

In ensuing weeks, Ticketmaster issues the tickets sans surcharges. Concession prices can remain the same. T-shirts can even be an exorbitant thirty five bucks, but the music, the music itself must be CHEAP!

Can’t we all come together? At least once a month? Leaving the petty agendas and the politics out? Can’t we put the music first? Consider it charity for yourself. Rather than donating to a foundation, turn on the lights in your building that evening.

Our only agenda is showing the greatness of music. The public gets to attend the shows of their choice. But truly, the highest price that can be charged is fifteen bucks. Like going to the ArcLight. And every show across America must be the same damn price. And all those acts in "retirement" have to come out too. Everybody from Fats Domino to Simon & Garfunkel before their next cleanup tour begins.

Come on! Only Gene Simmons got into this business for the money. The rest of you were enraptured by the music. Can’t you get the public on the same page? Can’t you turn everybody into a club rat? Can’t we get everybody to go out and see live music on a regular basis? Or do we have to wait until the labels fail, independent promoters are broken and every ticket is sold on TicketsNow and StubHub?

Don Henley and the Eagles too. Don’t go to D.C. and play for the Washingtonians, give back to the public. We’ve got endless riches of acts. It’s time for everybody to come out of the woodwork and come back. In an organized fashion. So the public is overwhelmed.