Hearne: Where Do You Sell Out? Right Here, Lefsetz Says

o-LENA-DUNHAM-900He may be old, he may cranky, he’s definitely self-absorbed, but every once in a while…

Music industry maven Bob Lefsetz cranks one out of the park in the Food for Thought arena. One of his more interesting recent efforts – very Tom Leathers like for those of you keeping score at home – goes the “Then” versus “Now” route.

A few of the highlights:
THEN

MTV was our national jukebox.

NOW

There is no national jukebox. There is no universality. Want everyone to know your name? Then KILL someone. Making music doesn’t lead to ubiquity.

THEN

Being on the cover of “Rolling Stone” meant you made it.

NOW

Being on the cover of “Rolling Stone” means you’ve already made it and the magazine is kissing your butt. Your PR person negotiated (the) interview parameters, all so they could sell more copies on the newsstand.

THEN

TV shows were on network and they were either hits immediately or canceled.

NOW

Screen shot 2013-03-28 at 9.07.43 AMThe best TV shows are on cable, and most take years to gain traction, as a result, there’s little backlash. People don’t complain about “Walking Dead,” “Breaking Bad” or “Sons Of Anarchy,” because they’ve earned their keep. Try to jam Lena Dunham (HBO’s “Girls”) down our throats and there’s backlash. And backlash draws attention now, but burns your career our faster. Wanna last? Start slow.

THEN

Albums sold double digit millions.

NOW

You’re lucky to sell one million. Except for Adele. Then again, isn’t it interesting that she can sing and write. What a concept, TALENT!

THEN

CNN was on 24/7 and featured news.

NOW

There’s little news on CNN and if you want to know what’s happening, you go to the web. Hell, CNN’s site is better than the channel!

THEN

You couldn’t sell a record unless you had major distribution.

NOW

Anybody can sell a record. Don’t be sour grapes. If you haven’t made it, it’s your fault, the barriers to entry are incredibly low.

THEN

The charts meant everything.

NOW

Charts are meaningless. Then again, youngsters don’t care about who’s winning, only who THEY’RE interested in.

davidbowiemodernloveTHEN

David Bowie comes back and he’s not only in the press, he’s all over MTV and the radio and he has a hit with “Let’s Dance.”

NOW

David Bowie comes back and he’s not on the radio and there’s no music on MTV and he doesn’t have a hit.

THEN

Rap was a view from the street.

NOW

Rap is a view from 36,000 feet, outside the window of a private jet.

THEN

Musicians were leaders.

NOW

Musicians are followers.

THEN

You discovered new acts when they opened for your favorites.

NOW

You discover new acts at festivals, you don’t even bother to get there in time to hear the opening act at a regular show.

THEN

TV networks had 90+% of the audience.

NOW

TV networks have less than 30% of the audience.

THEN

It was all about the album.

NOW

It’s all about the single.

radiostarTHEN

The radio was the tribal drum.

NOW

The mobile phone is the tribal drum.

THEN

You could see upcoming bands in clubs.

NOW

(Financially) challenged record companies have stopped supporting clubs so it’s difficult to see new acts at a fair price in an intimate setting. Oh, you can go see crap acts at a cheap price in an intimate setting, but who has that much time to waste?

THEN

Radio was the filter.

NOW

There is no filter.

THEN

You salivated over magazines and fanzines, which there were not enough of.

NOW

You rely on websites, of which there are far too many, almost none of them of high quality.

THEN

Record reviews mattered.

NOW

Record reviews are irrelevant.

4446610938_4bcb955492THEN

You were thrilled to be inside the building.

NOW

You can’t stop bitching about security, the seats, and the lines at the poor, overpriced concessions.

THEN

You came home from the gig and told everybody about it the next day at school.

NOW

You’re at the gig and you tell everybody about it from your phone.

THEN

It was clear who had talent.

NOW

Everybody thinks they have talent.

THEN

Stars were in bed with their fans.

NOW

Stars are angry with their fans, pissed that they’re stealing their music and won’t buy their crappy albums.

tumblr_mad1v8FGeY1ql6dwuo1_r1_500THEN

Facebook was cool.

NOW

Facebook isn’t cool. If bands can fade, why can’t websites?

THEN

The record company was the bank.

NOW

The concert promoter is the bank.

THEN

You didn’t have time for TV because you were listening to music.

NOW

You don’t have time for music because you’re watching TV.

THEN

Movie stars wouldn’t appear in a TV series.

NOW

Movie stars are eager to appear in a TV series.

03-67-the_who_sell_out-1THEN

Record companies were cool.

NOW

HBO and Showtime are cool.

THEN

The man wasn’t to be trusted.

NOW

Where do I sell out?

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18 Responses to Hearne: Where Do You Sell Out? Right Here, Lefsetz Says

  1. Super Dave says:

    A little long in the tooth and a pain to read, but you did your homework no doubt and put it together in a very strange way. What was isn’t and what is won’t be for long is how it goes today. For the record I think CNN sucks no matter where you view it. Yup it’s becoming a strange world that gets stranger by the day.

  2. balbonis moleskine says:

    The new jukebox is Pandora. Go to any party with people a decade younger than me and people will be playing that through their phone using a customized playlist based on ‘likes’.

    You could lament it, but in a way it is like in the 80s how they played deep cuts as well as the A and B side singles from bands.

    A a grumpy old dude at heart I enjoyed this.

  3. StillAtMyMoms says:

    Wow. Superb piece. Makes me hate my generation. Instant gratification has become the forefront. Back in the day sounds like it would be a fun time. Everything nowadays seems “nannyfied”. For instance, parents arrange their kids to play with others and you seldom see them venturing out other than their driveway. I miss rock; I really do. But let’s face it. It died in the ’90s. This whole roots revival/experimenting with genres “underground” movement is tripe. I always believed you made it to the top because you were good rather than be part of the scene.

    Keep posts like these coming, Hearne. I’ll start coming back more.

  4. balbonis moleskine says:

    Less eloquent, more unintentionally hilarious old guy grumping from Robert Butler reviewing “Spring Breakers”. He held off until the 3rd paragraph to blame video games!

    http://butlerscinemascene.com/2013/03/27/spring-breakers-party-down-and-down-and-down/

    Now excuse me while I put on my blu ray copy of Beyond the Valley of the Dolls, clearly high art.

  5. smartman says:

    Can’t disagree, which is why my epitaph will read, “He was an analog guy in a digital world”.

  6. paulwilsonkc says:

    Great read, Hearne.
    Smarty, my epitaph is going to read “I TOLD you I was sick!”

  7. Country Jesus says:

    Everything in here seems pretty spot-on except this one:

    THEN

    You could see upcoming bands in clubs.

    NOW

    (Financially) challenged record companies have stopped supporting clubs so it’s difficult to see new acts at a fair price in an intimate setting. Oh, you can go see crap acts at a cheap price in an intimate setting, but who has that much time to waste?

    • admin says:

      I agree with you on this one. I still think clubs are totally the way to go, to catch acts on the way up (or down) in an intimate setting for a reasonable amount of money.

      Of course, I don’t live in LA like Lefsetz

  8. paulwilsonkc says:

    Country Jesus, he was talking about things here in the City. We would need to hear from City Jesus OR Harley to get the real story.

  9. Kerouac says:

    I’m not sure why, but ‘Was, Not Was’ 1980’s song “Walk The Dinosaur” comes to mind after reading this blog subject matter; followed by Zager & Evans ‘In The Year 2525’…

  10. old wheezing geezer says:

    These dang whipper-snappers and thier new-fangled doo-dad gadgetry!!
    I’ll take my stick and hoop toy any day of the week over this flotsam and jetsam!

  11. Then: local news papers investigated, then reported facts with little or no agenda or overt bias, and steadfastly placed opinions on the Op/Ed page.

    Now: We’ll do anything for a genuine pair of ‘i (heart) Obama’ knee pads!! Please.

    I also miss actual hotel keys, folding money, and paying for gasoline after you pump it.

    • admin says:

      I got an actual hotel key at the historic Arlington in Hot Springs this past weekend.

      My wife and kids also got stuck in the room after the wind slammed the front door shut right as we were checking out and they were trapped in there for nearly an hour until one of the hotel staff crew finally crow-bared the door open.

      Luckily there was no fire alarm going off at that time…like there was the night before.

    • Irishguy says:

      I am reminded of something I read years ago on Bartcop, that I will paraphrase.

      Bernie Goldberg wrote a best selling book about how hard it is for conservatives to get their ideas across because they have no voice in the media.

      Then he went on the Rush Limbaugh Show and said conservatives have no voice in the media.

      Then he went on the Bill O’Reilly Show and said conservatives have no voice in the media.

      Then he went on the Sean Hannity Show and said conservatives have no voice in the media.

      Then he went on the Chris Matthews Show and said conservatives have no voice in the media.

      Then he went on the Larry King Show and said conservatives have no voice in the meida.

      Then he went on the G. Gordon Liddy Show and said conservatives have no voice in the media.

      Then he went on Today and Good Morning America and said conservatives have no voice in the media.

      Then he got booked on Meet the Press, Face the Nation, and This Week, and said conservatives have no voice in the media.

      Then he wrote an op-ed column that appeared in newspapers coast-to-coast in which he said conservatives have no voice in the media.

      • the dude says:

        What a sad, sad story Irish.
        I wish he had a chance to voice his opinion, shame he didn’t.

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