We love the music industry and love working in it. To us, music remains the land of untapped potential and we enjoy nothing more than helping artists, their managers, and even their labels, whether independent or otherwise, explore and identify the next big thing. We see bands that remain top sellers for generations to come and others that will come and go before you can say Justin Bieber (then wash your mouth out). We all have the freedom of choice to blast who we like from our speakers but according to Bob Lefsetz the artists who remain a go-to for the ages are the ones who are distributing new music daily. In his decidedly harsh but frank blog post, Bob Lefsetz compares Amazon’s success to the potential of musicians today.
should be a full time job being a fan of your band.
I just finished reading “Fast Company”‘s Amazon story. Amazon’s goal is to eliminate all competition, under the guise of being your go-to retailer, charging you for Prime, so you’ll spend even more, thrilled with faster delivery and some bells and whistles, like free books and movies, and getting you to pay even more, $299, for same day delivery of groceries.
The company never sleeps. Because it’s seen the movie.
What turned Apple into a juggernaut was the iPod. Which was not a good portable music player, but the ONLY portable music player. The company cornered the market on flash storage, no one could buy it as cheap, and hooked people into their ecosystem, i.e. synching and buying via iTunes, and no one else could even get a toehold.
In other words, take a hint from tech, you want to be the only band, the only service.
That’s not the way art is!
But that’s the way it’s gonna be.
Kinda like Phishheads. The band keeps giving its fans more tools to flex their fandom. Downloads, streaming concerts… Whereas the biggest acts in the business today run by the old rules. They wait twelve plus months to put out an album of ten songs and then go on the road in support of it. But what if you’re a diehard fan and bought the album on the day of release? What are you supposed to do for the next twelve months, other than wait for the act to come to your town and get a lousy ticket because the game is rigged against you, if you can even get inside at all.
Everything you were afraid of you now have to do. To stoke the fires of your hardcore fans, who are a better advertisement for your music than any radio station or TV play. You’re a cog in the wheel of those media outlets. Whereas you’re the driver in the act/fan relationship. You’re in control. You can read the feedback, deliver what people want.
What do fans want first and foremost?
That major label paradigm wherein a track is polished to perfection over months… That doesn’t even work for them, because after spending so much money, no one buys the album, they see no need to, they’re a fan of the single, not the act.
Look at Kanye… If he were smart, he’d put out new music tomorrow.
Huh? And kill “Yeezus”?
“Yeezus” is already dead. As is Jay Z’s album. Fans have digested both and are hungry for more. To try to convince those not interested is to be inefficient and waste your time.
In other words, every band is its own little corporation. And should be run as such.
Microsoft charged manufacturers a Windows license fee whether they put the OS on the box or not. The company was cutthroat. You’ve got to be cutthroat too.
Don’t waste time helping your friends. Don’t even bother to sleep. Keep feeding the fire of your act 24/7.
And don’t try to imitate Instagram or Tumblr or the rest of the one hit wonders. You’ve seen the movie, a few services or apps sell for a fortune to deep pockets and then fade away and do not radiate. If you’re in it for the instant splash and the instant cash, buy a lottery ticket, or try to make a deal with a major label, doing everything they tell you to, losing your personality in the process.
Steve Jobs? Steve Ballmer? Jeff Bezos?
Not nice guys.
That’s what I find hilarious about today’s acts. They’ve got no edge. Look at country. They’re afraid of being excommunicated. They sing about SUVs and babies and Christianity and you wonder why the music doesn’t spread beyond the niche…because there’s nothing there!
Artists first and foremost have edge. They’re different.
But there’s not an endless list of tech giants. I’ve got a couple of ideas for great sites in my back pocket, but that’s where they’re going to sit, because I don’t have the time, money and general wherewithal to proceed. In other words, execution is everything. You can have a plan, but if your music doesn’t kill, it’s irrelevant.
Amazon works because it’s cheap and easy and trustworthy. The rest are just add-ons.
Who cares about your social networking if at the core your music sucks?
So from now on write music constantly, post it online, every live show, keep feeding the beast. If you know exactly what resonates with your audience, you’re wrong, you must experiment to find out, and keep doing so.
But the major label paradigm is just the opposite. Do less. Make it safe. Play nice.
Does that sound like Amazon?