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THE LEFSETZ LETTER: Social Networking

Too many people believe a social network is something you invade to spread the word on your band. The goal is not to ride on the back of someone else's social network, but to create your own.

We want to belong. That's why MySpace blew up and Twitter too. The sense of community. Facebook is a bit different. It's about building upon the community you've already got, keeping the bonds strong, or
getting back to where you once belonged, rekindling old connections.
Big media corporations are fascinated by these social media entities, they're trying to uncover how to leverage them financially. But, a band's goal is a bit different. Facebook communities don't want you invading them. Nothing's worse than having your party crashed by unwanted people or messages. We get to select who we want to follow on Twitter, and as soon as you start hyping something, indicating
you're being paid to send the message, we unfollow you. And MySpace?
MySpace is history.

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.

So, when you sit in those marketing meetings, when you're at home dreaming of a way to blow yourself up, don't think about harnessing yourself to someone else's rocket. The key is to create your own rocket!

In other words, Facebook and Twitter, all social networks are tools.
They're not MTV, wherein you air one video and everybody sees it and you're on a rocket to the moon. They're certainly not radio, wherein you dictate to masses who are not entitled to a response. Social networks are islands that you must ask permission to enter, and behave properly or be ejected. So, if you think you're going to leverage all those millions of users, you've got another thing coming. But you can build your own social network.

Oh, do we HAVE TO?

Nobody in old media wants to hear this. Old media doesn't want to
start over, it wants a short cut. That's what major labels had.
That's what major corporations still employ. You've got enough money to advertise, to bang people over the head. But today people IGNORE advertising. If you're planning on ramming anything down anybody's throat, you're screwed. But can you build something so good people will be drawn to you?

Did you catch the action on Twitter today? Amazon deleted books from Kindles. In short order, it was one of the biggest stories on the microblogging service. Amazon in bed with publishers, don't trust the man. The truth ultimately outed a few hours later, that the publisher in this case did not have the rights to the books being sold and those who had purchased them had their money refunded. But the point is there's an online police force, that is spreading the word of your misdeeds, and preventing you from making all those riches you had in your plan.

Dell Hell is the classic example. Dell has never recovered. It's about to be eclipsed in the PC market by Acer.

But the good news is if you play by the rules, and have got something great, people with no financial investment will tell many, and you can get traction, oftentimes not having spent a dime. How big will you become?

Kill someone, create a stunt and you might make TMZ. Everybody will know you, and then forget you. At best you'll be a distant, laughable memory. You don't want this. In other words, if you try to goose it, you're on a slippery slope.

This goes against marketing history! Wherein you grow market share by playing with intermediaries, employing shenanigans that will result in a clueless public purchasing your wares. Those days are through. As much as Jessica Simpson's musical career.

People want to belong to new communities. That's why FM radio blew up decades ago, that's why Pandora does not deliver the key experience today. We want to be a member of the group. Can you create a group we want to belong to?

Arianna Huffington has built a better group than the "New York
Times". The HuffPo stands for something, it's the number one blog.
The "New York Times"? It's removed, it's not down with the people, it's fading. You have to be accessible today, you've got to get down in the pit, you can't have contempt for your audience, you've got to believe you're no better than them.

The public makes stars! Not record company or media kingpins.

And you'll never really know what the public desires.

So get a Facebook page, get a Twitter account, and provide so much
information about your project that people will want to follow you.
Play to the hard core, who visit your site daily and check your tweets constantly. This is not the twentieth century, where you parlayed four singles over three years to multiplatinum success… The hard core know what's on the album before you've even shipped it! And the hoi polloi have so many other interests, so many diversions, that the odds of them joining your hard core are almost nonexistent. Casual fans yield almost nothing, maybe a single sale on iTunes. Whereas hard core fans buy the $100 boxed set and a t-shirt, never mind a concert ticket.

Stop shooting for the moon. Figure out how to satiate and get more money from those who truly care, who will do their best to convert new fans. Your ability to strong-arm fans is almost nil, certainly online. Not only are corporations not to be trusted, but bands get a
thumbs-down too. Because of endless street-teaming and spamming.
People only trust their friends. So you've got to create friends in order for them to bring in new friends.

So stop talking about your social network marketing plans, how you're going to spread the word via the millions posting updates and pics about their lives. Think about building a fire that will draw people to you! Embody trust. And quality. It's a brand new world.