Don’t make an album if you’re an actor or actress. Nobody is waiting for it and if you’re not willing to go on tour for years you’ll get a ton of (paid-for) publicity and no sales. And if you’re that damn good and can’t say it in a single, don’t start. Or keep it as a hobby.
Don’t go to see “Argo.” It’s so typically Hollywood you’ll wince, down to the revolutionaries following the plane down the runway as it takes off (and if you think this requires a spoiler alert, let me really blow your mind… You’re gonna go to sleep and wake up tomorrow! You’re gonna eat too! Whew!)
Do go see “Smashed.” No one will. This is TV done right. But on the big screen. And that’s like putting your kiddie show on Cinemax, however good it might be, it’s the wrong place.
Do sign up for Twitter. But don’t tweet if you don’t want to. But if you do tweet, make it personal, not self-promotional. I went here and did this and feel that, as opposed to buy my this or buy my that.
Don’t mistake publicity for success. Just because people can read about it everywhere, see it on TV, that does not mean anybody cares.
Don’t ask to mail a CD. Do ask if you can send a link. Sending a CD makes you feel good, but it’s rarely listened to. You’ve got a chance someone will click and listen to your music via a link. Because it’s much easier. But don’t expect them to listen to more than five seconds. Yup, that’s how long you’ve got to hook someone. Don’t blame the listener, blame the plethora of entertainment options. We’re limited in time and we only care about the best.
Don’t get excited about the Stones’ 50th. It will only encourage them.
Don’t read Neil Young’s biography. Well, you’re already not. It’s self-indulgent, all about the money. Just because you can play music that does not mean you can write a book.
Do listen to each and every Alec Baldwin “Here’s The Thing” podcast. Because the level of discourse is high in a world that is too often shooting low and you’ll learn something. Robert Osborne, host of Turner Classic Movies, was working at the Greek Theatre box office when he got his job at the “Hollywood Reporter.” This was after he had been on TV and under contract to Desilu. David Brooks is funny, and explains why he’s a conservative better than Rush Limbaugh or anybody on Fox News.
Do talk about Palladia. The new MTV. Sans the bells and whistles of VJs, etc, you end up with just the music. And in hi-def, it works.
Don’t stay at home and watch on YouTube instead of going to the gig, it’s the same visuals, the same music, but a completely different experience.
Don’t go to work at the label. There’s no upward mobility. If you want to start in the music business, become an agent.
Don’t boast about how little sleep you get. It just makes you appear a trend-whore and stupid. All the recent studies say almost everybody needs close to eight hours a night. If you’re not getting it, you’re not being creative. Yup, that’s what it takes to have great ideas and execute them, sleep!
Do educate yourself on banking, not only titans like Goldman Sachs and J.P. Morgan, but hedge funds and private equity. This is the enemy. If you don’t know him, you and society are worse off for it. It’s like living in the sixties and not being informed on the Vietnam War. And once everybody got informed, a huge swath of the population was against it.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking just because you like something, somebody else will. If you want to maintain your credibility, don’t recommend that which people will not like.
Don’t believe just because Gaga is one of the biggest stars today that she’ll be one of the biggest stars tomorrow. Touring is a victory lap at her level. It all comes down to the music. Can she record more great stuff?
Do not think since “Jagged Little Pill” was so great, Alanis Morissette has anything left to say that you’ve got to hear.
Do not think electronic music is a fad. Because then you’re like Geffen Records, which thought rap was a fad, didn’t sign any and went out of business.
Do know that Showtime did not become the new HBO overnight. Success takes time. To find your way, to build an audience.
Nobody lives forever. The greatest threat haunting the powers-that-be in today’s music business is death. The sphere is rife with opportunity. Because of the aged infrastructure. Or as Warren Miller so sagely put it, “Every hundred years, all new people.”
Do know that access is king. Just like distribution. You might abhor electronic books, but a digital store, containing all available works at your fingertips, is good for readers and society.
Do know there’s no longer such a thing as a rare recording. Everything’s available online. Maybe not in a physical format, but you can hear it. Collecting is just sport today.
Do know the vinyl “revolution” has a sell-by date. It’s comparatively tiny and will be eradicated once higher quality downloads/streaming become available. Which could take years, because of slow broadband. What kind of screwed up world do we live in where people can get the same speed on their phone (LTE) as they can at home (broadband.) One in which there are no government incentives to speed broadband up. Higher broadband delivers a stronger economy. Just ask the South Koreans.
Don’t think Ticketmaster is the enemy. Acts are.
Don’t believe ticket prices will come down. There’s a shortage of good acts you want to see and income inequality means there’s always someone willing to overpay to say they were inside.
Don’t think Apple is forever. Music, when done right, can be forever. Not commerce, not gadgets and industrial products.
Don’t listen when an artist says his latest work is his best. He’s got no perspective and he’s just trying to sell it.
Don’t think the label is your friend.
Don’t think just because an album entered high on the chart it’s a success. Look to see if it’s still selling a year from now. If not, it’s almost irrelevant.
Visit the archive: http://lefsetz.com/wordpress/
If you would like to subscribe to the LefsetzLetter,
Don’t sign with a label unless you truly believe you cannot do it yourself. And do you see yourself as that inadequate?