We Don’t Want Your Record. By, Bob Lefsetz

Posted on November 26, 2013 by

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I don’t care that you made it.

I don’t care that your mother and girlfriend like it.

I don’t care that you funded it through Kickstarter.

Why does everybody think just because you did it I should be interested?

Parents are interested in their kids’ Little League games, but I don’t want to go. I loved playing ball, but even my parents didn’t show up. In other words, if you’re having fun recording, here’s to you! But don’t make me listen.

Even worse, you want me to spin it five or ten times in order to get it…

While you’re at it, why don’t I make you sit in a corner listening to Wayne Newton for four hours straight. Get back to me when you think that’s a good idea.

How did this happen? Is it the no one gets cut from the soccer team and everybody gets a trophy paradigm?

The reason you’re making no money in the music business is because you’re just not good enough.

There, I said it.

This doesn’t only apply to wannabes and never-made-its, but all the once successful who think since they hit the airwaves yesterday they’re entitled to attention today.

Come on, name the band that cut an album as good as their seventies work.

I love Led Zeppelin, but everything Jimmy Page has done since, from David Coverdale to the Black Crowes to teaming back up with Robert Plan, is worthy of checking out…if that.

And now we get to try before we buy.

Whether it be on YouTube or Spotify, we get our curiosity satiated, and after one listen, usually just a sampling, we move on.

Is this our fault? Do you want us to marry someone without dating them first?

Oh, the music industry complaints.

Studios went out of business.

So now we’re supposed to go back to a grand plus a day so the wannabes can’t record at home? Is that what you really want? A barrier to entry? Because that probably means you can’t play the game at all. You can’t record unless you’ve got a record deal or a rich parent. That’s the gatekeeper syndrome. Do you really want that to come back?

And record stores!

Yup, do you want to pay ten plus bucks to buy an album to get it home to find out it’s substandard and you want your money back but can’t get it? That’s the way it used to be, there was no sampling at any record store I ever went to. You broke the shrinkwrap, you owned it. Furthermore, there were great records that you never heard because you could not afford them, now everything’s available cheaply online to sample and you want to eviscerate this because all the wannabes and has-beens above are crying in their beer that they just can’t make the money they used to? Tell that to print shops! Kill the laser printer! Sue Adobe’s page layout software out of existence! And get HP to disable the copying function in every home printer while you’re at it.

We’ve got to want YOU!

And if we do, there’s plenty of money to be made.

But you don’t know this. Because nobody wants you. You keep shelling out dough to make it and get nothing in return and you think it’s the system, but really it’s your music, we don’t want it.

If your music is good, there’s a ton of money to be made. Not all of it on recorded music. Hell, do you know that prior to the mid-nineties most of the money was still in recordings? This is before Napster. Tour guarantees and ticket prices didn’t soar until Bob Sillerman rolled up the concert promoters. Why don’t we jet back to that era and insist that prices go down. Oh, you don’t want that. Hell, you just want to raise prices and scalp tickets. Unless no one wants to see you, then you complain about prices. Sure, there’s the occasional act utilizing paperless to keep ticket prices down, but most love the soaring revenue, because they like to fly private and live a life of luxury.

New acts?

Let’s make it so you’ve got to get on radio to hear them. Or do you want MTV to play music again too? Putting them out of business, because no advertiser will pay when everybody’s flipping the channel when a video they don’t like comes on.

But no, everyone’s got to sacrifice so wannabe musicians and crybaby oldsters can continue to play by the old rules.

I like the new rules. I used to charge for this newsletter. Now I give it away for free online and I make a lot more money. Because many more people know my name.

But that’s because I’m damn good. There, I said it. I’ve been doing this for decades. I’ve got no children, own no house and drive an almost nine year old car. I’m driven and dedicated and I’m not complaining. Because I realize life is tough and you’re owed nothing.

So if you wanna bitch know that I’m not listening.

Spotify pays 70% of revenue to rights holders.

You can’t get a ticket to a hit show.

And One Direction got a quarterly royalty of 150k for duct tape. FOR DUCT TAPE!

There’s tons of money if you’re good and want to take it.

If you’re poor, it’s your fault.

P.S. No one’s entitled to make it in the music business. That’s art. I don’t think that anybody should starve, I don’t think that anybody should go without health care, but I categorically do not believe that everybody should be entitled to make a living in music. Food stamps and Medicaid are a SAFETY NET! Those people aren’t getting rich, they’re just getting by. And if you can get by at all in music, you’re lucky. If you can’t, do something else. They’re not lining up to dig ditches, an honorable job, but they are to be pop stars. Ever wonder why it’s so hard?

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The Responses To Bob Lefsetz:

give em hell bob

Rob Meurer

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I dunno Bob. They just don’t get it. You can’t make a clearer case than the Adobe, print shop, Smith-Corona, Kodak examples.

You’ve made that clear, but the human capacity to ignore clear fact is astounding. The Lowery-Byrne Crybaby Opera is funny… they ignore a lot, but especially two big things…

1. No one OWNS the product when they listen to it on Spotify. It’s more fair to compare streaming to radio… Which the critics won’t do. They insist on comparing it to a physical, overpriced $14.99 item.

2. The same net they wanna bitch about and say will destroy music… Has provided musicians and creatives worldwide with free video editing software, free audio recording & editing software, free poster and art design apps, free email, free website and file storage space (a musician can do an international recording project… And share giant files with collaborators worldwide…and hold Skype strategy meetings.. All free!!). Dirt cheap business cards with free templates, dirt cheap CD duplication, on and on.

But the naysayers want the income and CD sales to be 1989 level. Definition of insanity. Funny.. All these altruistic people were totally content to pay $14.99 back in the day, WHEN EVERYONE KNEW the artist was getting $1.00 or so per unit. How come that was ok, and now I gotta hear lectures about “how unfair the payout is”??

Andre Cholmondeley
GuitarTour Touring

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Killer article….I know a BAR BAND who can barely draw who has a Kickstarter program started for a mere 50K.
Talking with the leader of a 5 piece country rock act, he is convinced his music will break and he’s 50+ years old. 50k for an album and a DVD (live show)..opening reward is $500 barely below what the band makes per night..Sheesh

Steve C. Hill

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Wow bob…that was so fucking raw..and truthful I cried…you are an amazing credit to this world..thank you so much for saying what needs to be said again and again…amen

Chad

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You’ve gone Kanye!
Kidding I can’t sleep and this just made my sleepless night.

Counting sheep,
-Dinetz

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Beautiful Bob, beautiful. Wanting to do something is very different to being wanted.

Corey Hague

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Amen

James Hyslop

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Reality sucks…..thanks for slapping everyone in the face….hope they get it this time

PALancia

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Amen 100%

ugh, the whining.

Best,

John Whynot

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See what I mean ? He has revenge of the nerd hater schmuck issues for sure.

Don Mizell

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Wow that pist came off bitter, petty and snarky Bob

Johnny Vieira

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spot on mate. I consider myself incredibly lucky to be able to survive on music alone. I forgo a lot of things that my friends of my age have but I get to experience things they never will. Found this post to be one of your most inspirational ironically. Keep up the good work,

Lily Unsub

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I never sent you my record.

I _do_ want your newsletter. Please, keep sending them.’

Thank you.

Evan Reidell

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Gold! Solid Gold.

Anthony Hall

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Fabulous post – and as one of the ‘lucky ones’ (though the living comes from ‘media music’ for TV etc, these days) I understand exactly what you’re saying. My only caveat is that as someone who generally prefers ‘niche’ music to ‘pop’ music I am finding it harder these days to find really good, really well produced, superb music made by people who really know what they’re doing. There’s a ton of bad electronica, but real gems in niche genres… you have to wade thru a lot of artist pages at Bandcamp etc because the industry barely supports these genres any more. Sure, there are still labels making it but there appears to be less of it about – but then, like you, I have little time to go looking, and decent curation is rare- and you’ll never find this stuff by any mainstream media, these days. I’m also aware of personal friends and colleagues who work in these genres throwing in the towel, a lot, these days. It was always tricky making ‘specialist’ music break even (never mind a
profit) now they find it too hard- especially if they have families etc.

That’s how it goes, I guess. But I think it’s a shame that the ton of money to be made out of duct tape can only be made if you’re a boy band. The money is there, yes, but only if you get to millions upon millions of people. The option of being ‘niche’ and maybe just surviving well enough not to have a day job has gone- and I think that’s having an impact on the quality of ‘niche’ music. They can’t do it full time anymore, so the quality suffers.

It’s a pity…

Thanks for that post, though- it’s pretty much what I tell most folk who send me their work asking for advice about how to get into the ‘main’ industry or the ‘media music’ industry. You’re not good enough. Go back and try again. But even if you do, there are no guarantees. Ever.

Best regards,

Tom Green

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BrilliantBob

Keep up the great work

Warm Regards
Jonathan Miller

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How many requests do you get a day to rant like this? You need to do a mailbag of all the crappy “listen to my shit music” email requests you get. With added commentary.

Please, it’d be a laugh!

Ryan Tyler

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Other than that… How did you like the play Mrs. Lincoln?

RFLAMO…

Brad Parker

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“If you’re poor, it’s your fault”

When did you join the Republican Party? WOW!

Ernest Chapman

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There’s the guy I love! Nice, Bob. It’s ridiculous ain’t it. The nitwits and knuckleheads etc… Happy Thanksgiving, bro! J

John Gordon

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Another great piece. Now if I could only get my son, who is a junior at Bard, to read your stuff on a daily basis. He’s a musician and also an aspiring producer. He’s got talent, but that doesn’t guarantee anything in life.

Anyway, I just wanted to say hi and let you know I enjoy your writing. More importantly I wanted to wish you a safe & Happy Thanksgiving.
Best
Kevin

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My God Bob you just figured out who your audience is..
There were parts of this one that were pure genius.. I’ve got several friends. Those wanna bea’s you might call them that need to read this one..
By the way seeing you on Rennie’s show, again what a delight.. Keep up the good work..
*Good Stuff!*

markwf2

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Wow Bob! It’s Thanksgiving. I’m wondering if you couldn’t find it in your heart to be a bit more generous.

I like your blog, I like your voice, but there are times when it borders on abusive. I am one of those artists you would probably label as “no good.” I have a grass roots career that has spanned more than three decades, without a single “big” break. I just (modestly) funded my 7th project through Kickstarter, and I harbor no illusions about you listening to or liking it. I just know that the fans that I’ve accumulated want me to continue. Bless them.

I note that you toot your own horn here too. You are good, yes. But you are not a musician. You are a critic, a commentator. That’s a default position. Because today’s music industry has become like a game of 52 card pickup, there has been a reversal of power. Artist’s are continually expected to pick up more and more responsibility for the business end of the game. This is both time and energy consuming, and cannot help but effect their development and success. I often wonder who I would have become if my family had owned a large, successful trucking firm instead of putting all of their energy into putting Hitler behind them and getting on with the day to day life of living in a foreign country. I also often wonder what it would have been like to be an adolescent boy who has others to make music with after school in a garage, instead of sitting in my room alone with my cheap gut string guitar and trying to emulate Joni Mitchell. Then I realize that it’s a waste of time to
wonder about these things and I get back to work.

I’ve also noted that you flip flop on your opinions constantly. You dislike Taylor Swift, she calls you up, you love Taylor Swift. I don’t really mind…we all do that. What I do mind is the harsh tone with which you judge those of us who just continue to make music and strive for some kind of success. As I have come to see it, in the end it’s the process of making and bringing music to the people who love and need it in their lives. In 100 years, maybe they will remember Elvis and the Beatles. Maybe.

So, you don’t have to listen to the CD’s people want to send you. You don’t have to respond to their requests for permission to send them. But you also don’t have to be rude.

Rest assured, when my new CD comes into print, I won’t ask. Happy Holidaze, hope you are well – Bernice Lewis.

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” Spotify pays 70% of revenue to rights holders.”

THANK YOU! All these complainers want to support businesses that pay rights holders 0-15% of revenue if that but not one that pays over 2/3 to the creatives / copyright holders.

Charlie Dahan
MTSU

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I know you have your schtick but if you want to upgrade your view of how music works in our culture, you’ll have to consider that the kind of success that you either have or you don’t according to your gospel is about as relevant as twinkles.

The most richly talented and successful musicians I know are not measuring themselves on your scale. In fact many have returned from their sojourns into Nashville, New York or LA and figured it out. They have home studios located where they really want to live, have licensing deals, are sought after teachers who inspire children and adult learners alike, often partner with artists in other fields, get Guggenheim grants and attend artist residencies, play for small local crowds as well as the occasional sold out concert hall, are ready to fill in with meaningful day jobs that bring balance to their lives, produce amateur musicians with great skill and panache, enliven church services, bring emotional support to weddings and funerals, become local legends and receive lifetime achievement awards, serve on school boards, create radio shows, build college curricula, serve and entertain a global fan base through social media and digital marketing, pull instruments out at parties just like
in the old days, and create community through their art and good will, one day at a time.

Maybe if you understood this you’d stop going on and on, trying to pat down the “untalented” who actually can have very vital lives in music if they would just stop reading yours and every other music industry blog on the internet.

Kristina Stykos

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Love it!

Still making a living,

Jack Ingram

P.S. I think the main concept so many artists don’t get is “what’s good for the goose…”! Fans have ZERO rules as to how they consume their music… Well, that means we (the artists) ALSO can do WHATEVER WE WANT! There are no rules… just like that bygone era you always speak so fondly of!!! It’s a brave new world, right?! BE BRAVE!

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a hit. Good one Bob.

Michael Hasek

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Hi Bob,

“Music Videos Are Dead”:

http://www.askmen.com/entertainment/austin/music-videos-are-dead.html

John

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bob;
have not bought a CD this past year that i played more than once. that includes the old white folks, the latin hopes and the beatrice wannabees.
christmas is a free pass so i did play justin bieber’s christmas record twice last yea , before returning to phil spector’s “a christmas gift for you” and ella fitzgerald.
i still get that pop lump in my throat and the remaining hairs stand up on my hand everytime i hear darlene love beseech us “but it’s december the 24th, and i’m longing to be up north….”
all new recordings are technology impaired by the condomed sound they share. no problem for the kiddies as they grew up with condoms as a part of their daily life.
but for us ….
happy thanksgiving, o

Andrew Loog Oldham

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That’s some harsh shit man. Most of the bands and acts that we grew up with, it took 3-4 records before they broke. People want direction from people they respect. That would be you….. you obviously don’t care, so i’m discontinuing reading your articles.

go fuck yourself.

Russ Irwin

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Bob “Get Off My Lawn” Lefsetz

Alex Speer

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I love today’s rant.

Fact is, there is no shortage of jobs for musicians who know how to play and entertain an audience. There are ten of thousands of clubs and lounges, and millions of events and parties, all across the country that require entertainment each year.

But for the wannabes that your rant attacks, being an entertainer is not what they seek, they want to be famous!

Many very talented people make a great life, and a great living, playing music and providing entertainment and are satisfied that we don’t know their names outside their zone of influence.

Frank A. Gagliano

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You should tell them to be truck drivers. There’s a national shortage. (there’s also a shortage of skilled trades) Those guys make from 70-150k now.. cause no one wants to “dig ditches” in an air conditioned backhoe that gets cable.

Thanks Bob,

Kyle Baker

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I love technology and agree with most of what you’re saying but don’t you think the fact that there’s so many wannabes that now can record at home and put it on itunes kinda makes it tougher to weed through all the crap and find the gems these days?

As flawed as the old system was at least there was some checks and balances. It didn’t always guarantee quality but it did seem to make it easier to weed through the crap and find the good stuff due to less volume.

Also bands and music suck these days. There are still good songs and interesting, talented, creative people but the work ethic in the studio isn’t there like it was pre digital recording (Pro Tools). I can tell you from personal experience that many performances are artificially created in the studio these days, and I’m not talking about wannabes I’m talking about artists who do have fans, can tour and get at least some legitimate radio play. I know this because I’m one of those people who work on some of these albums. I can’t remember the last time I made a record where 1/2 my job wasn’t spent editing and fixing mistakes because the performances just weren’t there or the singer couldn’t sing on key. Yet many of these artists make it on radio and have enough fans to play shows and go on tours.

Lastly audio quality is the one area of technology that has actually gotten worse not better. MP3s and AACs in their current lo-fi form Kill all the resolution, dynamics and excitement of music that I felt as a kid. Just compare any pre Pro Tools album from HDtracks.com to it’s mp3 equivalents, in some cases I’d say it’s even depressing how much is lost.

I don’t want to go back in time, I want to make technology work in our favor when it comes to music audio quality so music sounds good again and no I don’t think that everyone with a computer should be able to put out a record on iTunes, Youtube or Spotify etc. There should be some way that a band or artist should have to demonstrate at least some potential before they can get their music up on a legitimate site. It would create healthy competition and I suspect the quality of music would improve. Maybe artists might even learn their songs before they come into the studio to record, what a concept!

Mikael

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Hi Bob,

I work as a freelance filmmaker/photographer in Sydney at the moment, originally from New Zealand.

I also write music and dream of some day making a living from it.

I find your newsletter very inspiring in general, but this letter today was particularly awesome.

I think every wannabe needs to know that you they don’t deserve a career in the music industry. It annoys me so much getting shit music thrown at me on social media every day by small groups of narcissistic wankers who sing about pointless crap and dress like clowns.

It’s about the music these days which is great. If you suck, you won’t make it. But if you’re good, you probably will, because people will share your music.

There must have been shit loads of people back in the day who wrote amazing music and it was never heard by anyone because they didn’t have the right connections/money?

Now all you need to do is record something in your bedroom, put it on soundcloud and if it’s good, and you back it up constantly with more good material you will get shared. Flume is a great example of this.

I find the current paradigm comforting (only the best survive), because I know where I stand in my relationship with music.

Back in the day I would probably be stressed out about how to get enough money to record demos, who to mail them to, will I get a record deal… will the big guys like my music?

Today I don’t have to worry about making it or not. No stress about the future distracts me from creating, if people happen to like my music then it will work itself out online and I’ll make a career out of it.

Until then I’m just guna keep assuming my music is shit and nobody wants to listen to it 😀

PS. my thoughts today about the ‘dead’ music scene in Sydney…

I had a musician talk to me about the music scene in Sydney, aparently it’s dieing out and nobody attends the shows anymore.

I argued that DJing electronic music in a club is still a show, it’s still music, and people still come along… a lot of clubs here have lines where people wait for hours.

I know I know, that scene isn’t all about the music. But really I think it is…. you’re not as connected with the individual playing the song, but you are still connected with the music just as much as if you saw a band play. You dance, sing along, feel the emotions of the music. A lot of the DJ’s in clubs will add in their own tunes too, so it’s not just re hashing david guetta etc.

In my opinion the live music scene is cranking, it’s just different to how it used to be. Definitely all about dance music. Nobody has time to think about meaningful lyrics these days.

For the people who do, and want to listen to folk music/chilled acoustic stuff, you can go to sofar sounds which is amazing!

Ben
Ben Carter
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“Listen to Wayne Newton for four hours and get back to me.”
Laughed my ass off at that one!
God bless you, Bob. Keep spreading the truth. You are the best!

William Brody

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Truth. Thank you for speaking it. I grind 100% every day, and barely make it, and am proud of it. You don’t know me from a hole in the wall, but I’m in the 1% of musicians going 20 hours a day to do something that matters and that reaches people, and I appreciate daily your willingness to acknowledge that once it’s open season, it’s anyone’s game, and nothing is a given nor a gift anymore. It’s the work that matters, the money is icing if you can swing it, but you can’t be in the game for that reason. in some ways (hell, in most ways) it’s what makes this business still have life. When you talk about hearing records for the first time, your life experiences, your struggles and your insight into this f’d up musical world, it makes me (us!) feel like someone gets it, and we’re not banging our heads against the wall against the advice of mid 80’s A&R guys who keep encouraging us to blow ourselves up with an antiquated business model…

Personally, I’m in the middle of a huge paradigm shift in terms of my career and how I reach my audience (and I do, in fact [and very luckily, I might add] have a substantial one), and I attribute a great deal of my impetus to do so to reading and reflecting on your thoughts.

Keep talking, keep writing. You mean more to guys like me than you can possible realize.

Someday, I will buy you a very, very nice scotch

Best,
Josh Nelson

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1. Love this one !!!
You’re right. You’d better do it because you love it. I stepped in the luck bucket…beer joints have never scared me. Give me a good band of minstrel pirates and we can get it done. I rode in on that horse, I may ride out on it.
Who really knows.

2. Check out Kurt Hugo Schneider on YouTube.
Yale math prodigy…on the chess team.
Graduates Magna cum Laude (?)

Started posting covers on his page years ago. Had a Michael Jackson cover get 20 mill.
hits.

Now, casts Glee type kids doing covers with inexpensive videos.
He does one a week. Minimal overhead.

Gets “800,000 hits a day” on YouTube.

“It’s not a hit unless it generates a minimum of 10 Mill. hits.”

Web generated income….working the system.

The U.S. represents 18% of his market. ….caters to a global market. Young Asian girls seem to be where the generic money is. Amazing. Do blatantly brilliant.

He plays nothing but the numbers….straight down the middle.

Amazing……kinda 🙂

Ronnie Dunn

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Here Here –

There is NOTHING in the world more annoying to me than the “Come check out
my band, come support me, come support the “Arts” ” Facebook post or
email.

If I find your band entertaining, and I think it is worth my time and
money to come see you for my enjoyment, then I will make the effort to go.

I am not in my twenties. I don’t need to be made to feel guilty because I
don’t check out your “Alt rock jam band” at the local club, no matter how
much everyone says you sound “Just Like” Dave Mathews.

If you are good, I will hear about it?..

Not your exact words, but your sentiment, and I have been agreeing with it
for years now. Not just in what I choose to listen to, or shows I attend,
but in how I promote my own music or comedy as well.

Saludos,

Will Lopez

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Fucking love this.

Glen Burtnik

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So, where does that leave the people who are actually good? To still go at it with the record company approach? Then, we’re right back to the gatekeeper issue…I appreciate what your saying, and I’m a big fan…nor is incumbent upon you to provide a solution, though I am surprised you haven’t devoted more time to addressing the nature of the problem, i.e. that the paradigm shifts in delivery are only exacerbated by a culture of youth who are obsessed with being famous – hence, all the crummy “talent” shows (X-factor, et al). It used to be that kids wanted to be David Bowie or The Beatles, and for that, they learned how to write songs and perform. Now, it’s all about being on these idiotic reality shows…that, and the advent of home recording, have taken us well past the point of saturation. Plus, we’re all just burned out from overexposure via the Internet in general. Finally, the music industry blew it with regard to catching the Internet wave…now, it’s too little, way
too late.

Well, in spite of all this doom and gloom, I’ve still decided to release my first album. The album format is dead? So what. I like albums. Will anyone besides my mom and friends buy it? Who knows? It felt really good to release it. I didn’t ask for any help, didn’t go to these crowdfunding sites (I find the whole process repugnant) and I am sure as hell not going to whine if I don’t make a million dollars and get famous! In other words, I did it for sole purpose of making something I believe in.

People can visit our website, listen to the tunes and, if they like, click on a link to buy the songs from iTunes.

I, for one, am not going to stop making music because of paradigm shifts, Miley Cyrus or Bob Lefsetz! ; )

All the best,

Alexander Dorsch

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Bob, I’m a huge fan and really enjoy your news letters. Part of why I enjoy them so much is that you speak your mind. You are contradictory, hypocritical and completely human.

Lately though and sometimes sporadically, you seem to equate traction with artistic merit. Your conclusion more often than not is that if you put it online and it doesn’t take off, that your just not very good. Then you point to One Direction and duct tape as if that proves anything other than the age old paradigm at work.

Many, many artists are relatively obscure during their lifetimes but go on to acclaim posthumously. Many artists from Mozart to Townes Van Zandt died as paupers. Money can be indicative of many things, but seldom is it indicative of artistic merit.

-Dax Penick

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This is all true Bob but you sure get a case of the Debbie Downers on a semi-regular basis. Love readin you but hard to take
this bent sometimes. Come see us sometime, would love the opp to put a smile on your face. Record stores are fun, at least
ours is, and now goin strong almost 15 years!

Devout subscriber,

Mike at Slowbar

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Hi Bob, I’ve read only about 50 of your e-amils since subscribing to your blog over a year ago. I discard most of them, not because of their content, but because listening to people analyze the industry gets old. And most critics of the industry are fellow artist that simply aren’t able to make any bread within the industry.

Well, I loved this entry. It was straight forward and brutally honest. Its easy for an artist to blame the lame-brained masses for regularly listening to crap. And, it is much harder to devote yourself to something for decades, all the while realizing that there are two realms in which we must work and live – art and show business. I’ve learned that if you want to draw a crowd you’d better put on a show!

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Thankful to make a living in the biz,
Shawn Cole

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The best I’ve ever read from you… Thank you.

Atanasio Juarez

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What is good? Stairway to Heaven with its long intro would never make it today. Does that mean that it is not a good song?

Welcome to the future. This is what dumbed down music and cultural bankruptcy looks like. It doesn’t help when you have country music, written by a “paint by numbers” crowd throwing everything against the wall and seeing what sticks. What’s next: song writing sessions in front of an audience of people with MRI instrumentation hooked-up? I’m not real smart but I think that even I can figure out that images of driving with the windows down next to some little hottie with sprayed on jeans is a hit.

As a songwriter, the biggest challenge is learning who to listen to and who to ignore. What to change and when to put the paint brush down.

Butch Castetter

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Bravo Bob!

Darren Eboli

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great post and thanks for sharing bob. happy thanksgiving too.

ace

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Blame the internet. It’s fooled everyone into thinking that not only do they have a voice, that’s it’s worth hearing, and that it WILL be heard. The internet’s like rock n roll used to be. It was supposed to change our lives, give a voice to the voiceless, and it did that for a little while, but now it’s just like rock got to be. A few people at the top who made out like bandits and a WHOLE lot of people at the bottom who believed but slipped through the cracks.

Adam James

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“I’ve been doing this for decades. I’ve got no children, own no house and drive an almost nine year old car. I’m driven and dedicated and I’m not complaining.”

Bob,
Fuck.
All you do is complain ! You bitch, whine and moan about every little thing that pisses you off.
Granted, you have high-powered “friends” and readers, Do you think for a minute that they’d want to hang with you or read your shit if it was all sweetness and light and ass-kissing ?
Not me. I wanna see you eviscerate the powerful and trample the dreams of the unworthy. Fuck it…take on the worthy, too.

You and I are about the same age. We listened to and loved a lot of the same music. I became a musician because “What can a poor boy do, ‘cept to sing in a rock and roll band?”
You, having a much easier time, (based on the parents you were born to), went to college, studied and became a lawyer.

I didn’t make it in the music biz. I still play because I don’t know how to do anything else and I do get paid to do it. I’m dedicated, though.
I’m not sure what became of your career in law. I can only assume that you sucked or were lazy with regards to it as most lawyers make SOME money. Whatever.
My point is that you found your niche and you’re good enough to rub everybody’s nose in it. Now, you’re making some dough. From bitching and complaining and the occasional insightful offering.
That’s inspirational to me.
That’s what I’ve been doing all my life, too. So I think I still have a chance. A shot at some sort of redemption. Validation.

I’ve read you too long to ever consider sending you my music. I don’t want you shitting on me. (Although it might even elevate my status from “Who the fuck cares ?” to “Shit on by Lefsetz”.)
That said…can I send you some writing samples ? Would you consider mentoring me ? I know I’m old and gonna die soon, but so are you !
I’m good. I wanna be damn good.

Without your help, when I kick, all that will be left are my kids and that crappy, pedestrian album I released that nobody will hear.
But you sir, will be remembered as a truth-teller. A visionary. Someone whose bitching made a difference…and money.
That’s what I aspire to do.

By the way, one of my cars is thirteen years old. My other one is nineteen. I’m not complaining.
I thought it may be pertinent. Street cred and all.

Love your stuff, Bob. Keep it up.

Scott Sechman

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I love this! Thanks bob best Steve Cook

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“sit in a corner listening to Wayne Newton for four hours straight”
C’mom, Bob – we both know that was outlawed by the Geneva Convention.
Waterboarding still ok, though.

Barry Lyons

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Well said/written Bob.

Jody Whitesides

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Great read Bob!

I tell people this every day…”This is the music BUSINESS!” If you do not treat it as a business, as in research, development, marketing, advertising and sales, you will fail.

If your product stinks, your business fails. Unfortunately people that are trying to make it in this business are way to subjective about their own music. They do not understand that to succeed they must have sales. To have sales they must have a product that people want to buy.

I do not care what genre of music you produce, just do it so well that people will want to buy it! It’s pretty simple.

I would never go into the business of building cars just because when I was younger I used to rebuild them. THAT was a HOBBY. Too many people treat music as a hobby so that is all it will ever be for them.

My dad always says, “If you’re not making money at it then it’s just a pass time!”

Hobbies are great but you can’t buy groceries with “I swear I just wrote the best song ever and everyone is going to love it!”

Happy Thanksgiving!

Best,

James Lucente
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Brilliant!

Lori Welbourne

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Hi Bob,

Your words are true. I am not a great musician but I have been working steady in the music business my whole life.
The key for me has been the ability to adapt to circumstances as you say.I was a composer arranger during the television commercial hayday but I resisted learning to compose on computers which was just stupid. Since i was married with 3 kids at the time I figured out a way to learn the computer digital thing while I taught a class in music to immigrants in Brooklyn.

Once I learned to compose digitaly I learned how to market myself to music houses around the country while much of the music was being produced by indie artists i was able to survive focusing on my niche and getting known as a solid professional. Maybe no hits but still making a living. At the same time I took a job learning to play the pipe organ and conduct a choir as a music director at church.

The years I spent really learning music, pop, jazz, and classical and being open to work hard and having the right friends who helped me to adapt have made the difference.

You are right. It’s a hard business. I know you speak about being a star but being a behind the scenes arranger or composer still is a possibility but you have to be able to have all the tools and be open and aware.

Thanks again for the great work.

Jonathan Fields

Really good one! One life lesson that I have been painfully reminded of lately is : other peoples’ choices aren’t on you. The absolute, only thing you can count on in music is being proud of your own work. You are in control of that and that alone.

I have always believed success was being able to continue to do what you want. What you love. Of course you can be smart about opportunities that may present themselves. But chasing approval is a sure way to turn someone off.

Love your newsletter.

Jim Adkins
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great piece. hope you’re well Bob. Clint Crighton

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For someone so immersed in the music industry, you make some very ignorant claims.

The music industry is about who can throw the most money at something and see who can dominate the commercial market. That’s how this works. It’s not based on merit or accomplishment or dare I say it, talent.

Open your eyes, Bob. You are as much a part of the problem if you perpetuate that talent has ANYTHING to do with commercial success.

Nikhil Korula

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Hi Bob! Been following your blog for quite a while now.(5-6 years:-) You are often coming back to this subjekt. I don get it? Is there really that much whining where u are ?:-).
As a Swede, musician and composer, I’m a little surprised. I think we have come to terms with this “new world” a long time ago and I dare say that most of us over here have accepted it…and adjust accordingly.
Sweds knows that no one gives a shit..and that no one ever will help u..not even your mom:-)…and that no marketing in the world could help a a bad song making it to the charts.
We know that!
I think most of us look upon music making, playing in band, making recordings etc, as a form of therapy, a reason to meet good friends(we are sooo suicidal over here as u probably have heard, so we need this music shit to survive the dark winters:-).
Being, as I am, a probably good , but not good enough musician/composer…am happy if i get anything when I sometimes, find myself in an act on a stage, because the audience pay what they think its worth.(thats the way it works if your not in the charts, you basically play for free)…and i don’t blame anybody but myself for not getting paid.Ever.
And i really fucking know, that the only reason that my songs never have made it to the charts is because the songs …. are not good enough….yet… Its simple as that.
Guess what!…that just make me try harder…and one day…one sunny day…hopefully before I die…am gonna get there:-)

Best
The J

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Thumbs up Bob,

you are a star!

I wish I could talk to my music clients like that: man, it would be so liberating!

Annabelle Gauberti

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Bob as much as I appreciate your wonderful, funny, informative, impassioned, and yes often cynical, and a touch bitter insight, in this article you’ve left out something critical.

No matter how good your music is, and yes that is key, you CAN NOT get traction in the industry the majority of the time, certainly not EVER to the level of Adele or One Direction, without huge money pumped into marketing.

If your music sucks, all the marketing in the world won’t matter either. Yes more of it sucks than is even remotely good. BUT there IS some REALLY great music out there that never reaches the ears of the public because the artists just don’t have the funds to market it. They’d need to warm up a headliner that has their audience for them to reach the ears that their music resonates with. Either that or it takes a loooooonnnnng time to circulate organically.

Fans are fried on Kickstarter. It’s a burned out platform for music already. Amanda Palmer did a great job with her campaign but the record wasn’t good. Now, no one cares, NEXT. That’s the world we live in. It’s moving at a super fast pace, and even when someone has the success of Lady GaGa or One Direction they aren’t lasting. They are coming and going like….. the seasons but faster.

And even when all things are on the mark. A little magic has to happen too. Call it luck, call it connections, call it what you will. Yes it’s tough. 1 great song can change someones life. Or not.

BTW, You do not need to listen to anything I’ve done. Yes my experience plays a part in my view, but even if I didn’t have direct experience… it would change nothing about what I’ve said here. It is what it is.

PATTY MATTSON
http://www.pattymattson.com

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Dear Bob,

My old band mate , Jimmy Fox ( The James Gang) turned me on to you about 5 months ago,

when he realized that I was taking the plunge back into the music industry. He kept telling me

how tough it would be and that making money may not be possible.My answer was that I was doing for

other reasons. I immediately started to catch your blogs and really enjoy them, although sometimes they hit home

and cause me some discomfort.

Today is no exception. But I hope against all odds, that our record is an exception.I produced an

all instrumental ( what am I completely nuts?) of mostly classic rock, blues and jazz numbers. It’s

called I N S T R U S A U R U S. The players have some reputation as great sidemen: Jamey Haddad on drums( Paul Simon),

Todd Sharp on guitar( Rod Stewart, Hall & Oates,Delbert McClinton), Sean Jones on Trumpet (Nancy Wilson), Howard

Levy on harmonica( Bela Fleck) and other quality players of lesser renown. I KNOW! SO WHAT? Well it’s a pretty cool

album! We are on I Tunes CD Baby etc. Our CD’s and LP’s arrive in the next week and I have a special place set aside

for them in my garage. That’s probably where they’ll be for the rest of my days, unless of course we get a break.

Not asking anything from you. I just want to give you a Chanukah or Christmas gift, whatever you celebrate.Would like to send you a CD ,

(an old fashioned device for playing music).If you would rather I’ll send you a 180 gram black vinyl LP. OR BOTH!

All I ask is you listen and tell me what you think.Also some quality advice would be great.Need an address.

Thanks, Ronnie Silverman

P.S.I know, did I not read today’s subject: “We don’t want your record”. Sorry , I’m not too smart.

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Another masterpiece. We ain’t going back!

Ted Schreiber

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trying for an aneurism? too many shitty, unsolicited mp3s? off your meds? all this cortisol can’t be good for your gleevex. like john stewart said: it’s all right, it’s only music.

Chris Spector

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Well said Bob!

Steve Gerardi

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Found you from IMS. AWESOMENESS!

Andrew Nguyen

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Hi Bob,

If I’m to understand you right, your thesis here is that “If your music is good – it’ll find its audience” or conversely; “if you haven’t found your audience, the only explanation is that you’re not good”.
Not only I think you’re off the mark here – I don’t even think it’s a matter of opinion: tested time and time again, this idea that “good finds a way and always floats to the top” is a fantasy. An oversimplification at best, at worst: an unnecessary condemnation to brilliant artists who just haven’t had the dumb luck or marketing money to reach their audience yet – (or perhaps their audience hasn’t caught up yet.)

A few links to drive home this point. Some you may have seen, others more obscure:

Judging Music with Visual Cues:
http://www.npr.org/2013/08/23/214833695/judging-music-with-visual-cues

Man Uses Iconic Artist’s Work to Apply to Art School, Gets rejected
http://gawker.com/man-uses-iconic-artists-work-to-apply-to-art-school-g-1472070417

The Story of Joshua Bell
http://www.theguardian.com/music/tomserviceblog/2007/apr/18/joshuabellnoordinarybusker

These are just three off the top of my head – I’m sure there are countless other examples like this. Plus, look at the cult of the Emerson Brothers. Talk about a treasure that took decades to find an audience. One shutters to think of all the brilliant music that is lost to antiquity. If you’re under the assumption that sheer brilliance never slips through the cracks and always reaches our ears – I’d say that’s a pretty optimistic world view, and undeniably, a myth.

-Elle
http://www.ellebellemusic.com

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Hey Bob,

As a working/struggling songwriter and band member I have learned over the years that it’s a tough road even if you are good! My band mates and I record and perform music because thats what we love to do. We don’t really give a shit if we ever “make it”. Sure it would be nice to feel appreciated for all the thousands of hours we have put into our craft and sound but that’s not why we do it.

Instead of spending our nights playin as a cover band we have decided to stick to our guns with original music. How do we get by you may ask? The three main songwriters in the band run a successful interior/exterior painting company. This allows us to answer to no one but ourselves in work and in music. We just dropped our 4th record and have been playing music together since 96. We paid for every recording we have released without any crowd funding revenue. We did it with gig money and painting profits.

Sometimes when I get low on myself for having not “made it” yet and then I inevitably come to the conclusion that I have “made it”. Like the opening song from The Muppet movie “I’ve got everything I need right in front of me”. I get to practice and write music everyday with my friends in Blue Moon Revue here in the Midwest and I couldn’t be happier. Our music keeps getting better and if we figure out a way to make some $ and headway in the biz then awesome and either way I can go to sleep every night knowing that I already am “making it”.

P.S- I’d rather be poor and happy then rich and miserable anyway.
P.P.S- download our new record “make it reel” for free here http://www.musicalfamilytree.com/band/blue_moon_revue/3678
Andy Salge

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I hear you and for the most part you are right, but you are forgetting an important factor which is the DESIRE and then the CONTINUED DESIRE if an artist can even break through. There are plenty who are actually have the goods, the songs etc but never put in the effort OR get in line in the first place. They don’t have to because they have skills in other industries and are making money in other ways.

Most educated people are never going to fly without a safety net for years. And just because some one “makes it” with their 1 or 2 songs if they are lucky, doesn’t mean their art will last for more than a season or be heard outside of a Budweiser commercial and doesn’t mean the art has any potential to last either. What kind of career in our new attention economy is that?… The world has changed and most don’t have the time or care to start with anything new.

Best

Mikey


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