Blockchain. By, Bob Lefsetz

Posted on August 20, 2015 by


Why is it always people without leverage are agitating for change? Those without hits who can see a better way but have no power to make it happen.

Makes me yearn for the old days, when these people did not have a voice. When not only could they not get a label deal, they could not get their music heard.

Want change? Have a hit! Before you do, your statements are meaningless. You’ve got to force people to change, and that does not happen via a better idea. And the music business is intransigent, the techies learned the only way to make progress was to STEAL the music. That’s what they had in common with the promoters and label owners of yore, they had an element of crookdom, they believed the rules didn’t apply to them. But all these agitators for change, they believe Congress should help them out, or that if they just say something long enough about inequity, their opponents will change. Lucian Grainge needs to eat too, baby. And if he doesn’t get returns, he’s gonna lose his job.

All you songwriters bitching about a reduction in royalties. Not only do I want you to give back your synch fees, I want you to stop complaining and change the paradigm. Yes, Pandora should pay more, but when confronted with a loss in royalties the labels did 360 deals, they wanted a larger piece of the pie. If you’re such a damn good songwriter why don’t you hold out for more? If you just bitch that you’re being ripped-off whilst begging artists to record your tunes you’re screwed. Then again, if you write a big hit, you’ve got power. Max Martin can write his own ticket, then again, Max Martin is making a fortune, because he’s not interested in singles or doubles, but home runs, no…GRAND SLAMS!

Unionize your fellow writers, go on strike. Your enemy is the acts covering your tunes, not Spotify or Apple Music. They take your tunes and make millions on the road and give none of that to you. Unfair? Youbetcha.

Furthermore, you’ve got some people on your side. Like Marty Bandier and Irving Azoff. Bandier has been agitating for higher publishing payouts for years. And he uses his catalog as a big stick. Pull Sony Music and you’ve got little left. Irving culled a who’s who of writers and formed his own performing rights organization, without his tunes the outlets are toast.

But they both know the power of leverage and you don’t.

Want to have power in this industry?

Write a hit song. Record it. Then promoters will pay you more than they want to, screaming all the while. Do this before you sign your major label deal and watch the terms change, you’ll get more money, because that’s what labels thrive on, hits.

And if you want to change the industry you’ve got to get the heads of the powers-that-be in a vice. Pandora and Universal are not going to kowtow to a good idea, but if you make it impossible for them to transact business without you…

Then again, the labels learned their lesson, that the digital future was here. So what did they do? Leverage the power of their catalogs to get a percentage of Spotify ownership.

They pay athletes on results. Get big enough and not only can you write your own terms, but force a trade.

But in music everybody thinks they’re LeBron and should be entitled to start and get rich.

Good luck with defying the laws of economics. Which have nothing to do with the internet, they’re immutable!

Posted in: Bob Lefsetz