Posted: April 20, 2006
1. Make A Video
Unless it's shot on a hand-held digicam from Best Buy, your total budget is under $5,000 and it appears on your Website only.
2. Never Appear On VH1
Unless you want to be like one of those losers commenting on "Best Week Ever" who still live with their parents and have day jobs (night jobs!) doing clerical work in law firms as they wait, forever, fruitlessly, to make it.
3. Host Anything On MTV
You're a musician, not a presenter.
4. Do The Radio Station Show
It's about promoting the station, not you, don't you GET IT?
5. Have A Website With A Ton Of Flash
If you don't know what I'm talking about here, you probably have a Web-designer who's committing this faux-pas. Usability, navigability...not DAZZLING your fans is the essence. You're selling your MUSIC, not your design skills.
6. Only STREAM Music On Your Site
Charge after you've hooked them, not before they've entered the door. Let people hear your COMPLETE album online and be sure to give away MP3s, hopefully of the whole record. Otherwise, you look like a mercenary jerk.
7. Play The Arena On Your First Album
UNDERPLAY. Show you've paid your dues. If you're not in it for the long haul...I hope you're getting the lion's share of the revenue from selling out, but alas, that's going to your lawyer, manager, agent, record company, concert promoter... And then they find a new act and nobody wants you or your music and you're working a day job, a laughable joke in society.
8. Pose In Fashion Shoots
NOTHING should be subsidiary to your music. That should be your credo, don't do anything unless it's about the music FIRST! Nobody ever listened to an outfit.
9. Do Anything You Don't Want To
If it doesn't feel good in your heart, it's not the right thing to do. Don't doubt yourself. The day the people telling you how to act, to compromise, can write a tune is the day you should listen to them, which is NEVER!
10. Appear On Letterman Or Leno
Those people don't buy records. If you're a has-been, going on the road, do the shows, it'll make your ossified fanbase aware you're hitting the boards. But have no illusion they'll see you on TV and buy your record. You're better off being promoted in STARBUCKS!
As for the younger generation... You can be on Conan. Maybe even SNL. But don't make a deal with Starbucks. Because their brand is superior to YOURS! And know that EVERYTHING looks small on TV, so let loose and show your passion, it's the only thing that will translate.
11. Be Afraid To Play Live
In other words, when you think miming, singing to tape, eliminates the possibility of failure you're getting it wrong. If you're not willing to fail, to be real, to be honest, then the public just can't resonate with you.
12. Put Out A Dual Disc
Dead format. That isn't compatible with every player.
13. Refuse To Put Your Music In A Podcast
This is the new radio. Where people find out about new acts. Be hip to this and use it before the majors finally wake up and flood the purveyors with the kind of shit they gave to radio stations making it difficult for indies to play.
14. Wear Spandex
Unless your act is a parody of the hair band days.
15. Release Music With No Melody
Unless you're aware of this and the inherent limitations in your potential audience.
16. Make Anything Recoupable Other Than Recording Costs
Which means you probably won't be able to sign to a major label. You'll thank me for this.
17. Fail To Tour
Steely Dan got away with it, but they were damn good and it was a different era, it was easier to get on radio which everybody listened to. By performing live you cement a bond with your audience. THIS is the MOST important thing in building your career after the music itself. NOTHING can replicate this experience. It's a shared one equivalent to sex. DON'T underestimate it.
18. Be Afraid To Learn
Continue to take guitar lessons, voice lessons. Study the business. He who knows everything is he who will be blindsided.
19. Appear In A Movie
The last time this worked was with the Yardbirds in "Blow-Up". Sure, you can have your MUSIC in a movie, but don't appear in it. Not as a musician, not as an actor, NOTHING!
You can make your own movie. But if it ain't got that home-made play scattered theatres in a week then straight to DVD for fans only feel it'll bomb.
20. Put Out Press Releases
People should come to YOU for the story, you shouldn't be telling THEM! The only lame-asses interested in this kind of shit are those in the straight media without the time or inclination to do any real reporting. If you MUST reach these people, have your press release be INTERESTING! Not that you're the greatest act in the world soon to eclipse the Beatles but that your father gave you a Les Paul that he got during R&R while serving in Vietnam and it was played by Duane Allman when he took it to a gig and your sister said you sucked but your girlfriend inspired you and now every time you play she gets wet. Believe me, people will start paying attention if your message has some CHARACTER!
21. Sell Your Publishing
If you don't believe in yourself, who will? Make an administration deal. Make a deal where the rights revert to you. But anybody who sells their publishing isn't aware that the only reason Michael Jackson isn't on skid row is because he owns those Lennon/McCartney tunes (which drives Paul WILD!)
22. Forget To Put Out A Vinyl Version
You can forget putting out a CD, but vinyl is COOL! (And sounds better to boot.)
23. Equate MySpace Hits With Quality
You might want to have sex with Tia Tequila, but nobody wants to listen to her MUSIC!
24. Tie In With Sporting Events
Your music must be PRIMARY, not secondary, not an ADD-IN! If your stuff is really that hot, the stadium will play it without asking you first. That will REALLY rock you and your audience.
25. Accept Sponsorship
Sponsors don't help break/spread the word on your act, they send money to your bottom line, which your handlers can commission. This is the biggest fraud of all time. If you can't tour without sponsorship money, then you don't have an audience. Once again, it's about selling THEIR product, not YOUR MUSIC!
Bob Lefsetz, Santa Monica-based industry legend, is the author of the e-mail newsletter, "The Lefsetz Letter". Famous for being beholden to no one, and speaking the truth, Lefsetz addresses the issues that are at the core of the music business: downloading, copy protection, pricing and the music itself.
His intense brilliance captivates readers from Steven Tyler to Rick Nielsen to Bryan Adams to Quincy Jones to music business honchos like Michael Rapino, Randy Phillips, Don Ienner, Cliff Burnstein, Irving Azoff and Tom Freston.
Never boring, always entertaining, Mr. Lefsetz's insights are fueled by his stint as an entertainment business attorney, majordomo of Sanctuary Music\'s American division and consultancies to major labels.
Bob has been a weekly contributor to CelebrityAccess and Encore since 2001, and we plan many more years of partnership with him. While we here at CelebrityAccess and Encore do not necessarily agree with all of Bob's opinions, we are proud to help share them with you.
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