Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Drake’s Playlist | Lefsetz Letter

He knows there’s no rulebook.

Whilst wannabes record albums and record labels sell CDs and the newspapers print the inane “Billboard” chart, Drake decided to innovate.

Ain’t that a concept, ain’t that what an artist is supposed to do.

But don’t think you can extrapolate a trend from his behavior, don’t think you can follow in his footsteps, for Drake is a party of one atop the pop/urban heap and he’s the beneficiary of attention, people are interested in what he does, they’ll spend time checking it out, and they’ve got almost no time for anything else.

The dirty little secret of streaming services is most people don’t even finish a song, they skip around. They’re looking for that hit of dopamine that satiates, and if they don’t find it immediately, they’ll move on. They’re especially interested in the work of stars, and this has less to do with the stars and their work than the society we now live in. Stars are rallying points in a Tower of Babel society. No one has seen the same niche movie as you or listened to the same niche song, but if you listen to the work of a star you can participate in the discussion, you can belong, and the truth is although the internet has provided endless verticals, we want to be in the big horizontal, we want to be a member of the club.

Drake got there by knowing what the classic and MTV acts did not. That dedicated fans want more. If you’re making an album and dribbling out tracks over years you’re missing the point. You speak to your core and your core testifies and your core wants more.

So Drake gives it to them, with an endless slew of product.

And if something doesn’t work, YOU JUST MAKE MORE!

This is contrary to the old ethos, where you spend hundreds of thousands of bucks to perfect a product for a museum. Drake knows that today’s music is evanescent, and the most important thing is to stay in the game, which he does.

And he doesn’t care that the global release date is Friday, he doesn’t care about physical formats, he knows it’s all about on demand access now. People expect to click and hear when the hype begins and then they move on and sometimes don’t come back. You don’t want a long buildup promoting a single product, that’s the movie business, you want an endless slew of music some of which makes it and some of which doesn’t. Remember when Bieber was releasing singles every few weeks that got no traction? That didn’t prevent him from coming back and triumphing with hit tracks later.

That’s what artists do, EXPERIMENT!

They take chances, risks. If you want everything to succeed, you’re not gonna be in the game.

So Drake has an instant success evidencing culture. It’s not only about him, but the scene he’s into. We’ve never experienced that before. But that’s what streaming services and instant distribution allow. Artists use the new tools to bend not only the rules, but our minds. What did McLuhan say, “The medium is the message?”

You can cut a track one day and have it released the next.

And you can make it about more than you, you can make it about your scene, your buddies.

One thing’s for sure, we know the old paradigm is history.

Music comes without advance notice and it sinks or it swims.

Drake knows this, how come the gatekeepers don’t?

Rag’n’Bone Man’s “Human” was a hit last year in most of the world, but U.S. radio is only going on it now. We need records to move faster, we have to hook the public on the great new stuff and then move it out and make room for new stuff. We’ve got to make music and the scene exciting again. We’ve got to forget the codification, the aged concepts the boomer-controlled business runs by, and build a whole new world.

Drake is in the construction business.

Kudos to him.

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