Trusted Relationships. By, Bob Lefsetz

Posted on April 7, 2012 by


Beating a dead horse…

It’s gonna be hard for me to spend time with your music if I don’t know who you are.

I know, you hate that. It’s kind of like you can’t get a job without experience, but how are you supposed to get that experience in the first place?

You’ve got to build a network.

I’ve got mine.

A lot of these people have music business status, a lot of them are personal friends. And a couple of them are people I’ve never met who’ve established trust via e-mail.

First and foremost, these e-mail buddies want to do me a favor. By hipping me to something just to share the joy, something they’ve got no involvement in.

Now if you decide to take this approach with me, and I don’t recommend it, you’ve got somewhere between five and thirty seconds to convince me you understand where I’m coming from, sending a track in a genre I like that will tickle my fancy.

It’s kind of like relationships. I’m not just looking for a date, I’m looking for the right person! If someone sets you up on a bad blind date will you trust them to recommend someone again? If you do, you’re not someone I know…

In other words, you only get one chance.

And you don’t want to blow it.

But really, this is not advice on how to reach me, but a delineation of how the game works.

As you move up the ladder, your free time shrinks. You don’t want to waste it.

Furthermore, despite the bravura, everyone’s fearful of sliding down and ending up out of the game, never mind at the bottom. There are more people who used to work in the music business than work in it now.

So how do you get into it?

By building relationships.

It matters less what you know than who you know.

I felt I knew a lot, but I took classes at UCLA Extension to make connections. My goal wasn’t to be the smartest guy in the class, to get an “A” from the teacher, but to become friends with my fellow students. One worked at a recording studio where they did two weekly satellite broadcasts, when that was a nascent format. By making friends I got to hang out, hell, I even met Bumps Blackwell and Little Richard! And this person had a friend who managed an act with a demo so good, it made me swoon.

That person ultimately got a major deal on that tape. She failed. I was involved and then wasn’t. There wasn’t enough money to keep me in. Furthermore, the music business is about a ton of failing before you gain success.

You’re right, too many baby boomer record execs are too busy playing golf and not listening to new music and just don’t get it. But now, with the Internet and the changing of the landscape, the newbies are not left out. Better to build your own better mousetrap than try to harangue these people into paying attention. Kind of like in that front page story in yesterday’s “New York Times”, about electronic music, wherein Gary Richards laments the big boys getting into the game and cocking up the works:

I know Gary.

I met him through a friend…

Gary Richards is passionate with an edge. He built it himself. The big boys found him last. He’s been doing it for twenty years. Let him be a beacon.

But don’t deny that someone gains power by putting in time and building relationships. If you think you can crash that party instantly, you’re plain wrong. Because you learn something paying your dues. And you meet people along the way.

That guy you abhor who you believe is out of touch can lay his hands on best-selling talent and get the money to book said act in a major venue. Don’t underestimate that skill.

If you think getting ahead is about facts, you’re sorely mistaken.

My time is limited. Find someone coming up like you. Who’ll go to lunch, spend all afternoon listening to and debating records. You’re right, those days are behind me.

You want me to be just like you.

But what you don’t understand is that I once was.

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Wendy Day’s Two Cents:

Everyday I get tons of links, mp3s, videos, and music spammed to me via email, twitter, and Facebook from artists I do not know or care about. They somehow mistakenly believe it is my job to listen to their music and give them encouraging feedback. The truth is, if you are sending around your music to industry people, you aren’t going to EVER succeed. Pimped or robbed, maybe. Succeed? Never. You haven’t taken the time to learn HOW the business works, plus your mindset is one of “if I have the right connection or co-sign, they will put me on.” Wrong, wrong, wrong. It just doesn’t work that way. Why would I, or anyone, ever want to work with a stupid, unknowledgeable artist unwilling to even read a free article to learn how to win?

I, personally, only work with artists who have a healthy budget (so I can build them a strong regional sales following) OR who already have a strong following in their region (not city, not state, but region!). I say this daily, but you still come to me broke or without a buzz–as if you can change my mind with your incredible talent. You can not….and better talent than you is EASY to find. In my opinion, everyone spamming links and music is doing this as a hobby, and I have no time for wanna-be’s or hobbyists. I build careers and millionaires….if you took the time to study my history, which is very accessible, you’d see this is the case. You get one shot at wasting my time. Why burn out our relationship before you even really have one?

So you can continue to link songs and videos to me all you want, but don’t be upset when I call you stupid, Stupid! Because you have proven that to be true. Build fans. Build a buzz. Let me find you! Then you have leverage and power. And then, and only then, will you begin to succeed.

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