Posted: Apr 27, 2013
Category: The Lefsetz Letter
**Guest Post by Bob Lefsetz of The Lefsetz Letter.
"Here today, gone tomorrow. That's the modern paradigm. When what you want to do is stay in the public eye, in people's minds, you don't want to be forgotten. That is why the album format is working against you.
1. If you're making an album-length statement, a story, a concept, go for it. But twelve tracks strung together is not a concept.
2. If you're an itinerant musician and you want something to sell at shows, a CD fits the bill. But you could always assemble ten or twelve songs into a CD for this purpose.
There's just too much information. And no matter how big a story you've got, you can be trumped by somebody else or just plowed under by the detritus coming down the pike. Your album is in the rearview mirror only moments after it's been released. Look at the top of the SoundScan chart, it's new product all the time. Illustrating that that's what the public wants, new stuff! And you keep peddling the old!
Don't blame the old men at the labels. They're beholden to the artists. Just like the artists are responsible for ticket fees, they're responsible for the inane album format. Because they've got no vision. Toting out their long-playing favorites, from "Sgt. Pepper" to "Dark Side Of The Moon," they say they're just following in a long tradition. I'm saying they're just making music a second-class citizen, by being so lost in the past.
You've got to create constantly now. That's the only way you can stay in the public eye!
Radio is Las Vegas. A few people get lucky, a few win the jackpot. But most don't.
Hone your track with its twelve writers, spoon-feed it to radio, be part of the dying game. Or release music constantly in order to maintain your presence in your audience's brain.
Look at the public. Used to be mail came once a day. You got it when you arrived home. Then, you could only check e-mail with a wired connection. Now, you go to dinner and everybody's on their phone, constantly. They just cannot stand being disconnected.
But that's what you are. Disconnected from your audience. They're not tweeting about your latest release, because it was MONTHS AGO!
It's almost like you're making a movie. You know, something that plays in the theatre for a week or two, and just when word of mouth gets you interested, it's gone!
But let's forget about the movie business, which is challenged so greatly and doesn't realize it. Let's focus on music.
The number one thing a fan wants is more music by his favorite act. But rather than deliver said music, today's bands put out an album and then lay low for a few years, while their functionaries try to convince everybody who doesn't care that they should. Forget about the new audience, focus on the old. The old will sell you to the new. If you satiate them.
And the way you do this is via new music. But it's not only music. It's connection.
You think you're gaining traction by hanging with the program director? IDIOT!
You're better off answering e-mail, responding on Facebook, making news on Twitter. There's no thrill like getting a Twitter response from your hero. You tell everybody you know. Virality is rampant. But the old farts would rather get a story about a tour in the newspaper. Forget the newspaper, that's where news goes to die, it's there last. News is for today, tomorrow is for brand new news.
And perfection is history.
How do we know?
Because Reese Witherspoon acted out in Georgia and we all knew in hours, if not minutes. She's too stupid to come out and say, HEY, I WAS DRUNK! But actors are phonies and musicians are real. Cop to the facts. State the truth. That's what bonds you to your fans. You've got the ability to connect directly, but you keep complaining the new way is not like the old way and you just can't get paid.
I've got news for you, it's gonna get worse.
There's gonna be nowhere to buy a CD. And the world is gonna go to streaming. And people are gonna cherry-pick their favorites. And there's nothing you can do about it other than make phenomenal music, which your album is not, there hasn't been an album playable throughout since Cat Stevens became Yusuf Islam.
Oh, you get the point. There's a giant disconnect!
It's not the media's job to keep you in the public eye, it's yours!
They call it the NEWSPAPER, and despite my complaint that so much of what's inside is old, it's not old by months, that's right, they don't call it the OLDPAPER, so the odds of them writing about your album months after release are essentially nil.
We live in a direct to consumer society.
Amazon knows it.
Google knows it.
Apple knows it.
But somehow musicians don't know it. They want someone else to do the work for them (+DIY). They don't want to take risks, they don't want to fail, they don't want to try new ways. The new way is you bond to your fan. If he or she doesn't think you're living in their house, you're doing it wrong."
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Enjoy more of Bob's writings on Lefsetz.com.