Hipster Death Spiral. By, Bob Lefsetz

Posted on December 21, 2013 by

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So I asked Anita Elberse what she says to the naysayers.

I’M THE YOUNGEST TENURED PROFESSOR AT HARVARD BUSINESS SCHOOL, WHO ARE YOU?

Whew!

And there you have it. The separation between the movers and shakers and the hoi polloi. Education.

Kristina from Ticketfly caused a brouhaha in Aspen when she suggested concert tickets be refundable.

The promoters went berserk. But that wasn’t the point. Kristina’s point was to be unemotional and see what you could do to drive adoption. That’s what she learned at Amazon, her prior job, after graduating from Cornell and getting a Stanford MBA.

Yes, it’s happening. Nerds are inheriting the earth. Like the man from Google, who went to MIT.

They’re pulling away from us. If you’re under the age of twenty forget competing for the “Voice,” you’re better off staying in school. Simon Cowell’s at the end of his career, Jeff Bezos is just beginning. Who do you want to hitch your star to?

Thinking outside the box, relying on data. That’s one thing the techies do well. What they don’t do well is emotions. That’s the essence of art, but we’ve squeezed all that out. We’re a pale imitation of the tech companies, trying to ring the Wall Street bell, with our clothing lines and our desire to sell out to the highest bidder. Wanna have a hit record? Go deeper. Into yourself. I mean I can listen to Miley Cyrus’s “Wrecking Ball,” but it doesn’t affect me. It’s kind of like an ice cream cone, tastes so good going down but when it’s done it’s forgotten.

Even worse, there’s a thin layer of successful people.

And everybody else sits around and bitches, trying to tear down those who have made it, like Ms. Elberse, not realizing no one is listening.

On Twitter all the rock critics are beating me up for saying that I’m happy with the R&RHOF inductees. I’m an idiot! Don’t I know that I should be championing the obscure? That anything successful is not worth paying attention to?

That’s so twentieth century. When we were one cohesive society. Now it’s every man for himself. And either you pop your head through or you’re irrelevant. Even worse, you can be famous and irrelevant. All that counts is the mainstream. If you’re not attempting to be known by everybody, if your goal is the niche, it’s almost like you don’t even exist.

There’s one Amazon, one Google, one Apple. But the ignoramuses at home think they can compete. Every day I get an e-mail saying the sender has a new company that will solve the music industry’s problems. Ever hear of LICENSING? That you can do nothing without the music? These people believe if their idea is good enough, the majors will capitulate. Kind of like those posting on SoundCloud.

But it don’t really happen that way at all.

The way it happens is you get into the game, forge relationships and try to win. And if you’re on the sidelines, decrying the game, your voice goes unheard. Once upon a time we had “Rolling Stone” and nothing else. Wenner’s book was the Bible. Now we’ve got so many online publications that only a few matter. Like Vice. Which published the year’s 50 worst albums. Isn’t it funny that “Yeezus” is on it. The sycophants have lauded it, but the public has yet to embrace it. Could the public be right?

The hipsters need the public to be wrong. To embellish their image. But no one’s paying attention to that image.

Furthermore, if you’re truly snarky and offensive, we can just Google your ass and find out you live in your parents’ basement and work at the library, or for the government, and those are honest pursuits, but if you think they entitle you to be heard, you’re dreaming.

So if you want to play the game?

Go to school!

And learn how to write.

And know the only thing that works today is mass. That the Long Tail is a fiction, and that most creative work goes unheard.

You’ve got to be in the game for eons. You’ve got to build a fan base and be very good. And even worse, chances are you’ve got to link up with a traditional marketer or get a huge cash infusion to make it.

I didn’t write the rules, I’m just reporting them.

“Vice’s Worst 50 Albums Of 2013” (via Jason Hirschhorn’s MediaRedefined, Jason’s working 24/7 to be a player in the new world, seemingly everybody in Hollywood subscribes, oh, that’s right, Hollywood’s for wankers and pussies): http://bit.ly/1kqdM9a

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