THE LEFSETZ LETTER: Save The Album?

If I hear one more old fart who grew up separating seeds from stems in the middle of a gatefold cover say we've got to save the album my head is gonna EXPLODE!

What ruined this business was the single. The individual track honed to perfection and then sold on MTV. Suddenly, people no longer believed in artists, but SONGS! It was 1963 all over again. When the 45 RPM single ruled.

But that was an interesting time. Despite all the one hit wonders, there WERE certain artists who did return business, who got the public to buy disc after disc. Artists like the Four Seasons. And the Beach Boys. Because they realized it was about the ACT, not the song, or the presentation.


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.

Sure, the Beatles turned the album into an art form. But the old fogeys would have you believe there was no legitimate music, never mind act, prior to this happening. That the history of music before the 33 1/3 LP is completely irrelevant.

Let me put this all together for you. To make it today, to have an impact and longevity, you've got to establish a CULTURE! You have to create a community. People have to BELIEVE in you.

Do you think everybody loved "Rubber Soul" from the minute they heard it? God, some people didn't even buy it because it DIDN'T have any singles. Albums like this, like so many great records of yore, you had to play again and again and again to GET INTO THEM! And the reason you gave them this chance was because you believed in the BAND!

That's where it's at. Not a collection of ten to fourteen tunes. It would be as if Beethoven or Bach were only relevant, only important, if you could collect their great work on one LP, or CD. And that's hogwash.

Hell, if you want people to buy an hour long production then replicate Jethro Tull's "Thick As A Brick". Other than that, know
that the album is HISTORY! Done. Finito. To deny this is to live in an ancient fairyland far from reality.

The key is to hook somebody so they'll want EVERYTHING you do.

The idea is to be an ongoing artist. With a steady stream of product. So people don't get over you. Today's paradigm is like
having an intense girlfriend and then not seeing her again for three years. Especially if you're under the age of twenty, do you think the relationship would last? Don't say it's about attention spans, it's about CONNECTION! While you're off flogging yourself in a foreign land I'm supposed to hold a torch for you? What's more, what if you come back exactly the same? If three years go by, who wants a girlfriend who's still fifteen rather than eighteen. That's what it's like when an act releases a new disc after years have gone by and it sounds just like the old one. The only people interested are those who are nostalgic. Can you say U2?? That's what's going on with this band. Repeating the formula so only people who went to college in the eighties still care. Oh, don't send me hate mail. Just name two tracks from the last two records as good as "I Will Follow" or "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For". Or with the limit-testing of "The Fly". Case closed. Go back to sleep.

Can we stop arguing about disintermediation? How we've got to keep the integrity of collections? How the iTunes Music Store is ruining music? Like I said up front, it's the corporate marketing policies that got us to stop believing in "musicians". Explain J. Lo to me. An actress/model "sings" in an almost million dollar video and I'm supposed to BELIEVE IN HER ART? Oh, they were thrilled over at Sony. Execs at other labels were waxing jealously. But it's this kind of crap that got us in trouble. Why would you need a new J. Lo single/video. To see what she's wearing?

If you've got a story to tell, make it all one song. Or, explain it on your Website. Tell people how to sequence the downloads. Or maybe, ask THEM how they sequence the downloads and what the result means to them. If the medium affects the art, the Internet is about collaboration, get the listener INVOLVED, don't dictate to him.

So, stop polishing turds. Make a ton of music. Put it up on your Website constantly. So people will go back and LOOK for it. Don't tour over five months a year, so you have TIME to relax and get inspired and continue to write, which is what you're truly about, being an artist. Establish a relationship with the fan, an ongoing one, not a static one. And know that if someone is into you, they'll want everything you ever did. Which is why I comb the P2P services for live tracks by my favorite acts. THIS is the passion we need. Not fat cats lamenting the passage of the old days eliminating all the soul from the enterprise. Music is dope. Sell it that way. Get people hooked so they won't let go.

Amen.

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