THE LEFSETZ LETTER: The Road From Here

Party like a rock star? What IS a rock star?

A rock star was someone who danced to the beat of his own drummer, who did what felt good in his heart, did not follow trends, but his own

vision. He didn't care about the establishment, he was ANTI- ESTABLISHMENT! Those rock stars might return. But the people we call rock

stars now, the famous twits known for their partying more than their music, they're done. Because no one is paying attention anymore. Why

should they? It's not like people have to listen to the music to know which way the wind blows.

EMI has cried "uncle". Eventually the rest of the major label groups will too. The Tommy Mottola mold, and if he didn't invent it, he

perfected it, of overexposure in all media known to man, spending a lot to sell a lot, is history. Because no one is paying attention

anymore.


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.

They're not paying attention to "American Idol". Oh sure, the ratings dwarf those of the shows on the other networks, but that just proves

that the writers strike is the best thing that ever happened to the Internet. Why do you need a $100 a month cable bill? What's so good on

the tube that you can't find something better online, whenever you want to watch it? "American Idol" is truly sinking because the audience

no longer believes it creates stars. Believe me, if Jordin Sparks were burning up the sales chart, people would be watching. But the bloom

is off the rose. It's "Star Search" with more flamboyant personalities. Doesn't matter whether Simon is nice or they lose the celebs, the

heart of the show is gone, built by Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood, the perception that this truly was great talent, that the best would

out. If Jordin Sparks is the best, then I'll just sit at home and play Rock Band, it's a hell of a lot more stimulating.

What kind of messed up world do we live in where kids

would rather play a video game than follow and go to the shows of new artists? One in which the creativity encased in the game exceeds that

in the grooves of the new records. Music has lost its way, its essence. But that isn't its biggest problem. Its biggest problem is the

lack of attention, the fact that not only do people not care, those acts that are cared about garner very few eyeballs.

MTV… Plays no music.

Music radio… Drumbeat of a generation? No, a financial scam run by fat cats featuring automatons spinning researched records in between a

ton of commercials.

How do you research a Jimi Hendrix? You don't. Research can't predict the future. Furthermore, research can't even predict the winner of

the New Hampshire primary. All the old institutions, they've lost touch, we're all flying by the seat of our pants.

But that does not mean there's no good music. That just means it's very difficult to break new acts.

Breaking an act. Artist development. That has come to mean taking a John Mayer from clubs to arenas in a little over a year. That's not

artist development, that's ALBUM development, oftentimes no more than SINGLES development. To create something lasting, of value, that will

pay off like a slot machine, TAKES TIME!

You've got to find the act. The act must be original. You can't think of the audience first, but the music. Most great acts of yore didn't

sound like anybody else. The audience found them, via radio exposure, touring and word of mouth.

Word of mouth is king today. Because no one trust the filters, the media. Everybody's whored out (including the bands!) The public wonders

who is getting paid. And if you're getting paid, you play by the rules, you say nothing against your sponsor. And once you quiet yourself,

you can no longer be a rock star. So you're working against yourself.

Industryites HATE all of the above. They're looking for an easy way out. Hitch a ride on a corporation. But unless you've got a huge fan

base to begin with, selling out will get you noticed, but will not deliver a career.

You've got to make it about the music, and only the music. People have to find this music and tell their friends. It's not about convincing

the PD, nor the booker at the late night TV show. About the only thing you have control over is the music. So when people WANT your music,

GIVE IT TO THEM!

Don't lock up your music, if someone wants it, give them the tools to spread the word. It's your only hope. If the Tommy Mottola system

still worked, you'd still see his name in the gossip pages, he'd still have some power. You can no longer goose things. And, if you do,

you've just shortened the act's career.

Radio, television…they should be an AFTERTHOUGHT! Like when AM picked up on an FM track a year later. The fans thought this was cool as

opposed to a sell-out. And it's all about the fans. Treat each one like gold. Don't hold him at arm's length, give him more than he wants.

The old game is done. What stars have been built this century who can consistently sell out arenas? Maybe the aforementioned Mr. Mayer, who

is sui generis. Or maybe Mr. Mayer is inventing the paradigm. He's so out there, so sold out to everybody, that people say he must be

making the decisions. Recipes on his Website? Defending his old girlfriend? What's the upside?

Rock stars don't worry about every single move. If it feels good, they do it. They'll take a political stance, they'll laugh off a drug

bust, they're ABOVE THE SYSTEM, if not the law. That's what a musician does, provide a beacon.

So screw all the old players, the salesmen, the radio promotion guys.
They're so inured to the old ways that they can't see the new ways.

As for the old guard…there's not enough money in the new game for them to care.

It's open season. For musicians and businessmen. Become a manager.
Find an act (the hardest thing to do). Believe in that act and build a fan base one by one. Don't jam the music down people's throats, use

permission marketing. If someone is on your mailing list don't only tell them about the gig, send them an MP3. Ask their opinion. Be

involved with them. THIS is your sales team. You can convince every
media gatekeeper in the country, but that won't give you a fan base.
And without a fan base, you've got no career.

Play to the fans first. Know that they've got a crap detector nonpareil. They need honesty. They need to know they're in line ahead of

Volkswagen. They need the good seats at the gig. They need free live shows distributed on your Website. They'll buy t-shirts,
they'll pay for concert tickets. They might even buy a vinyl album.
But first and foremost they'll tell everybody they believe in you.
The zeal in their voices will come straight from the heart. Their only goal is to show others the light, that what they're into saves lives.

And music will save your life. It's religion. Treat it that way.

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