THE LEFSETZ LETTER: The Album Is Dead

Blame Chumbawamba. And Smash Mouth. If you bought their albums to get "Tubthumping" and "Walkin' On The Sun" respectively you found out not only was there nothing close to as catchy on these overpriced discs, there wasn't even anything that SOUNDED SIMILAR!

The audience was about to cry uncle anyway. What with the bloated albums of the CD era. It was as if discs were gas tanks. You had to FILL THEM! Just in case of some emergency down the road…like you never got to make another record AGAIN!

How out of touch is Christina Aguilera? We don't need two discs of crap from ANYBODY! Certainly not somebody who hasn't been recording for twenty years.


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.

Really, try to penetrate a package like this. The audience certainly is not. Just ask all the Shania Twain fans who didn't buy "Up!" You buy these albums for the single. And play them through MAYBE once. And then you move on. The only people who care are those IN the industry.

It's over. There's a new paradigm. Sure, you can hold on to selling full-length discs for a little while, but not long from now you're not going to be able to GIVE THEM AWAY!

You're gonna see a single on iTunes, and that's it. And then maybe another three months later. And then another three months after that.

The labels are avoiding this like the plague. They're so wedded to the old model they can't see reality for what it is, THE TRACK HAS BEEN DISENGAGED FROM THE ALBUM! The label wants an album budget, producers, a full-length that they can charge in the neighborhood of ten dollars wholesale for. No matter that no radio station goes deep and neither do the fans. This is the way they've done it for thirty five years and DAMN THEM!

And it gets worse. You live and die by the single. Just ask Christina Milian. What kind of business model IS this. Wherein you spend a fortune and find out you're done as quickly as a movie studio knows a film is a dud, THE DAY IT OPENS!

Ron Fair says it's a pop world. God, I wouldn't want to rely on the sales of pop artists. Because after the single, nobody WANTS anything. You've got to believe in the act to want more than the hit track, to delve into the "album" cuts. Not that they should be sold as an album. They should be dribbled out on a regular basis. To satisfy the core audience, the believers, as opposed to trying to flog the same damn disc for three years all over the globe.

Disaster is right around the corner. Digital sales via the iTunes Music Store are not a panacea, but the END! A conflation of revenue by such a percentage as to horrify Wall Street. The CD dies and you sell a small fraction of the product you used to. It begs for a different business model. Something akin to HBO, wherein a customer can pay a monthly fee and take all he wants. And it will come to this. Because now it's clear, this album/disc model is a train running out of track, heading for a cliff. At full steam no less. Only those willing to reinvent the business will survive. Don't believe the RIAA hype. There's no pulling out of this slump for the majors. This is the final hurrah.

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