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THE LEFSETZ LETTER: Seth's Promotion

The post I e-mail most is this:

That's Seth Godin on permission marketing.

Read it and weep. Because it tells you all those nineties marketing tricks are history. You've got to earn your audience. By gaining their trust, by not abusing them, by giving them something they're interested in.

The reason I e-mail this post most is because every single day I receive multiple unsolicited e-mails. Worse, it's oftentimes people putting me on their mailing lists. Forcing me to hit "unsubscribe" to get off. Even worse, most lists don't include an unsubscribe button. You e-mail the perpetrator again and again, but you still get the e-mail.

Then there are the PR people, sending me over the top praise for crap. Like I care about what you're getting paid to promote? YOU'RE getting paid, not ME!

It's much harder now. But the dividends are far greater. If you play by the new rules.

So please read the above-referenced post. And think twice before hitting send.

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.

But I'm not writing this to tell you about permission marketing. I want to tell you about Seth's new book promotion.

That's how Seth Godin makes his money, selling books. And doing live appearances driven by his online fame and the success of said books. He does no consulting, he gives his information online away for free, taking no ads in the process.

But how do you promote a book today?

You could spam everybody in your address book.

Like that's gonna work.

Or you could buy a mailing list.

All the traditional efforts are like the person who insists on giving you their unsolicited CD. It doesn't work. It makes the perpetrator feel good, that he's done something, but if you think the execs you lay them on are going to listen to them, you've got another thing coming. Furthermore, it's easier to listen online. But that doesn't make you feel as good.

Furthermore, the old promotion paradigm is broken. There are fewer traditional media outlets with less time and space for books (and music!)

So, you've got to motivate your core audience.

By delivering something they want.

And it's even better if the average person can't get it.

How about the band sending x number of followers the new tracks BEFORE they're released! That's how you create buzz. Not by going on the "Today Show" after polishing your track with Timbaland to crap. Can you imagine how special all those people will feel? They'll tell everybody they know about your music.

But Seth sells books. You can download a book, but it's not as special as the real deal. And people feel better when they get something they perceive as having value. (I know, I know, you're questioning why I don't want to get your CD, as stated above. The difference is I DON'T WANT YOUR CD! This only works if someone WANTS what you've got. Then, to have something tangible adds value.)

But books cost money. To print. And to sell.

But every project has a marketing budget. Maybe instead of spending it on old media, you should go to your true fans, who can spread the word a la Malcolm Gladwell's "Tipping Point".

But if you're a star, and Seth is one in the world of business books, you can't send a tome to everyone. How do you separate the wheat from the chaff?

This is where Seth reveals his genius idea.

And make no mistake, it's always about the idea. Which can come in a flash. Via one individual. Whether it be Keith Richards waking up with a riff in his head and then recording the legendary line from "Satisfaction" into a portable recorder or Steve Jobs deciding to make…

And Jobs is a good example. Because he doesn't add more team to get to the end. He just selects the right people and focuses and drives them. It's not about quantity, but quality.

But you knew that.

So, how did Seth Godin achieve his goal?

By requiring you to donate to charity to get a book!

Voila, isn't that simple and fascinating? Isn't that pure genius?

To get an advance copy of the book (three weeks before the general public can buy it), you've just got to make a minimum $30 donation to the Acumen Fund. You can do the research, but it's a great cause. And all the money minus PayPal's 2% fee goes to Acumen. And only the first 3,000 people who donate can get the book.

So, how does this translate to the music business?

KISS should have given a copy of their new opus to the first 5,000 people who donated to a charity. Maybe just digital files, you know the KISS Army wants it.

But Gene is so interested in putting dollars in his own wallet, he can't see the glory of charity, how it makes people feel good to donate, makes them feel good if you donate too.

For big bands with bad images, this is a no-brainer.

And for less significant acts, it's a way to bond fans to you.

You accomplish your mission. Getting your product in the hands of those who can best promote it. And you don't look greedy, but philanthropic in the process.

This is twenty first century promotion.

Let's see who does it in the music industry first.

But don't cock it up! It's got to be simple, sans hype (i.e. you don't put out a press release, you just post a simple notice on a Website, like Radiohead did with "In Rainbows") and transparent. This is how U2 should have released "Get On Your Boots". It could even be how they could break a new track.

Talk amongst yourselves.

Original Seth Godin blog post:

All the details: