Winning. By, Bob Lefsetz

Posted on December 23, 2011 by


So I’m reading Michael Lewis’s “Blind Side” about Lawrence Taylor and Bill Parcells says it’s not LT’s speed, his height or his build…but his will to win that makes him so successful.

Do you need to win?

If not, you’ll probably never make it in the music business. You might be able to schlep the equipment and get a job in the marketing department but you’ll never be the big dog unless you’ve got a 24/7 hunger, a constant drive to succeed.

Sure, talent cannot be dismissed. But we all know great guitar players, brilliant minds, but they’re neither rich nor powerful nor well-known. Why is this?

They lack the killer instinct.

Those people you decry, ruling the universe, running the game?

They’re winners.

Doug Morris. Jimmy Iovine. Lyor Cohen…

They take the game personally. It’s about them, not you. They need to beat their competitors, they need to emerge victorious. That’s why you hate them, but that’s why you’re subservient to them.

Take David Geffen. They don’t come any smarter, but his will to win was greater than anybody else’s. He’d take chances, he did whatever was expedient to get to the finish line.

I’m not saying Geffen did anything illegal.

But so many of the household names did.

I’m not saying you have to, although it does make it easier if you’re a sociopath, I’m just informing you what you’re up against.

A raw desire to vanquish everything in your way, anything between what the winner wants and needs to get.

LT’s so ferocious, he scares the quarterbacks. No one likes to talk about it, but there’s a huge fear factor in football. As there should be. Look at what LT did to Joe Theismann’s leg.

Joe didn’t see LT coming. He entered on Joe’s blind side and hit him from behind. And finished Joe’s career.

Are you willing to finish another person’s career? Do you take the game that seriously?

That’s a fascinating question.

But I will tell you one thing, your competition does.

If you don’t think the music business doesn’t run on fear and intimidation, you’re not in it. It’s filled with lying, cheating scumbags. And if you’re not ready, you’re gonna be run right over.

Go to the settlement.

Let the games begin.

You made a one-sided deal and now the promoter is trying to claw back profits.

Or sign a record deal and have success. If artists got paid what they were owed, there’d be no need for an audit clause. Which is defined to the nth degree. The label trying to hold back all information possible.

This is not the Internet, this is not the business of 0’s and 1’s.

This is people.

This is the game of life.

And it’s harder than any game you’ve ever played.

P.S. You cannot win if you do not know the game. Everyone sits on the couch self-satisfied, believing they know the game of football when they’re completely clueless. What happens with the ball, what you’re paying attention to, is a result of a ton of cause and effect. I didn’t know until I read “Blind Side” that left tackle is now the second highest paid position on the team. To protect against the new LTs. You cannot win at music unless you know how the game is played. How labels get records on the radio. How managers get acts on TV. How both get acts on the Grammys. If you believe we’re living in a meritocracy you probably went to an Ivy League school and are still trumpeting your SAT scores. Much of your competition didn’t even finish college. Donnie Ienner dropped out of high school and is proud of it. Books will give you outlines, but until you’re in the game, you truly have no clue. The blocking shenanigans. The favors. The loyalties. The need to teach the acts a lesson, that like players in the NFL, they’re only a pawn in the game, the game goes on without them.

P.P.S. If you’re heading for middle management, if you’re just looking to gain a toehold, give up. There are too many people fighting for your job. The landscape is littered with people who used to work in the music business. Ask a few what happened. They got squeezed out, knifed in the back by those they thought were their friends. If you’re not gunning for the top, if you’re not planning on being the majordomo, you’re not gonna make it. Look at Coran Capshaw, all he does is work. He’s thinking 24/7. You can work for him, but did you ever notice there’s only one of him? There’s no Coran, Jr? It’s almost like we need a music boot camp, something like the Army where we scrub away all you learned in “Rolling Stone” and teach you how the game is really played. But like in that old Jack Nicholson movie, you don’t want to hear the truth, because it hurts. It hurts to find out that we’re only looking for a few good men. That’s all. We want no excuses. We don’t care about your mortgage, your love life or the birth of your baby. You’re on call all the time. You’re at our disposal. Unless you call the shots.

P.P.P.S. Don’t shoot the messenger. If you want health insurance, if you want a house in the suburbs with two kids and a stay at home wife, don’t go into the music business. If you think you can get on stage and out shred the previous act and this means you’re entitled to be rich and famous, you’re clueless, consider music a hobby, don’t quit your day job. But if you’ve got the eye of the tiger, if you won’t settle until you’re the biggest in the world, bring it on. It’s a long way to the top, but if you get there you can do it your way. There are no rules. That’s the triumph of both Lady GaGa and Irving Azoff. But there’s only one of each.

Visit the archive:

If you would like to subscribe to the LefsetzLetter,

Posted in: Uncategorized