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THE LEFSETZ LETTER: Net Opportunities

If I get one more e-mail from a middling artist telling me how tough life is, how the Net has ruined their income, their lives, their careers, I'm gonna EXPLODE!

The Net is the very best thing that has ever happened to everybody but superstars.

We can debate the effect upon superstars at a later date… Or the inability to be a superstar. But if you used to have a recording deal, and you lived off the advances/royalties, and now you've lost your deal or your sales are off…I'VE GOT NO SYMPATHY FOR YOU!

I'm not saying people shouldn't pay for music. Let's legalize P2P, let's authorize new consumption methods, let's cast a wide net… But until that happens, stop crying in your beer and seize the opportunity!

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.

The major labels are freaked out. Because historically they've only made money in the recorded music sphere. They've got opportunities in
the future too, if they'd only step into the twenty first century.
But they're about amalgamation, you're about…one.

Everything you build comes back to you. Every effort you make enhances your career. Choices may not be as obvious, effects might not be measured instantly, but get in the game for the long haul and watch as dividends get paid.

First and foremost, for the very first time in history, you can know who your audience is. You can collect the e-mail address of everybody who likes your music. Maybe give a track away for free for an e-mail address. Maybe not all of the addresses will be valid, but if they're truly fans, they'd LOVE IT if you contacted them in the future. This is what Led Zeppelin did with their O2 ticket sale, this is what Radiohead did with their name your own price "In Rainbows" deal, this is what Trent Reznor does again and again. You have to harvest e-mail addresses. So when you go on tour, when you've got something to sell, you can ALERT YOUR FANS!

And it's no longer ONLY when you're on tour. You can sell t-shirts while you're at home watching the tube. People who've never seen you live can order a t-shirt or keychain or autographed tchotchke. Hell, you can PERSONALIZE all your merch and sell it at an exorbitant price. God, you can even ask your fans for money to record. True fans will give you ALL their dough. They want to support you, they're in it for the long haul… Unlike the label. If your first emphasis track/single fails, the fan doesn't drop you, he redoubles his effort, he's even more committed, because you NEED HIM!

Stop trying to take the easy way out. Looking for a sugar daddy, a bank. Start doing the hard work. Or get your spouse to do the heavy
lifting. Or enlist a fan, who will do it all FOR FREE! Doubt me?
Then how about all those fans who establish Websites in your honor.
They'll do the authorized one FOR NOTHING!

And that site has to be updated EVERY DAY! So people will continue to come back, to bond.

Just because music can be stolen doesn't mean you can't sell it.
Hell, look at iTunes, it exists side by side with P2P. And sell vinyl, which can't be downloaded and traded. Even if people don't have a turntable, they want the physical object as a work of art, as a totem of their dedication!

Don't tell me you can't get a deal. That advances are low. That publishing royalties are off. That's like lamenting you can't find
anybody to fix your cathode ray television. That's all HISTORY!
You've now gone cottage industry. Instead of going to the bar, maybe you should get an MBA, because that's what you're running, a tiny corporation…that can throw off MILLIONS of dollars if you think about it and execute.

In the not so distant future, there will be entrepreneurs who will help you do this. Who will pick up the slack for a fee. Just like record labels do now. At first you'll love them, then you'll hate them for having so much power, the same way the labels hate Apple and iTunes. You can do this work… If you'd just get up off your lazy butt and GO FOR IT!

Or maybe the cold hard truth is too hard to take. You're just not good enough. The label that dropped you was right, they made a mistake, they shouldn't have signed you, you're not commercial. Maybe only your mother and best friend truly like your music. YOU ARE NOT ENTITLED TO AN AUDIENCE! You must EARN your audience. Maybe doing some experimentation isn't such a bad thing. Does your audience like vocals or instrumentals? Long or short numbers? Novelty tracks or love songs? Sit down, write and record some material and put it up on your site. See what's downloaded the most. Ask for feedback. Ask YOUR FANS what to do, what they can do FOR YOU! Mobilize your fan base.

You're living in the best era for music creation and distribution in the history of mankind. By complaining, you're just showing your ignorance. Knowing how to play is not enough. Just like you can't survive in today's world without knowing how to type. Don't cling tighter to history and complain, take a typing lesson, do some research, TAKE A CHANCE!