Saturday, November 10, 2018

On Demand | Lefsetz Letter

We live in an on demand culture. There is nothing after Spotify and music radio dies. I know these are unpopular sentiments, but that does not mean they are untrue.

Let’s talk about streaming… Just because we’ve been through so many iterations of formats, that does not mean another one will come down the pike. It’s not so much about Spotify itself, but the technology it is based upon, the aforementioned on demand. You get it when you want it, instantly, with no waiting. Forget about the Luddites complaining about the obscure albums still not on streaming services, forget about the misinformed who believe you need to be in cellular or wifi range in order to listen, not knowing you can synch thousands of tracks to the hand-set, forget about those who need to own something, all these people get way too much press, and speaking of which, the press is run by oldsters, who can’t handle progress, if I read one more NYT article about flip-phones or mobile-free days I’m gonna puke, talk to the youngsters they’ve got no problem with technology in their lives, and they’ve got no time for terrestrial radio.


Terrestrial radio is like network TV before the clicker and before cable, no one wants to go back to a land of limited choice. And once you got a clicker, you were flipping channels like crazy. You want to go back to the past?? Radio is a passive medium in an active world. Which is why Beats is such a bust. The idea was created by oldsters and it’s been soundly ignored. Zane Lowe went from hero to zero. Zane should declare victory and quit, he had more influence at the BBC. There’s a place for his skills, but it’s not with Apple.

Kinda like record store owners. We had to listen to testimonials about how they were so good at their jobs and couldn’t do anything else. But their stores went out of business anyway.

So I just did a presentation and got the inane radio questions, this time from public radio people. Waxing on about BBC 6 and…

It’s about the IMPRIMATUR, the singling out of tracks, not the listening, not the repetition. And, what act has broken from public radio in the past five years, since streaming has taken hold. And if an act has gotten traction, it’s amongst the oldsters. Radio is a circle jerk made up of people who see out of their asses. Since they had a job in the past, since they grew up on radio, it must exist in the future. Kinda like automobiles, other than in the demented U.S.A., which is now run by bozos, every country in the world, all the big manufacturers, are going electric. Hell, have you driven a Tesla? That’s why Porsche is going electric, it can’t beat the acceleration numbers. And BMW and MBZ too. But we keep reading the words of the wankers how internal combustion is improving and gas is forever when the truth is it loses because it’s too inefficient, never mind the pollution problems.

Anybody bringing the future is pilloried. Like Spotify itself. Until all of a sudden the recorded music business turned around and everybody was making money. Well, not everybody, those who triumphed in a limited system are not making money, but not everybody survives when the world turns and the future arrives. But ain’t that America, where everybody believes they’re entitled to their gig forever.

So when it comes to delivery systems, of whatever type, think about instant. Amazon Prime, you get it in two days. Instacart, you get your groceries delivered to your house. Sure, you don’t get to pick the fruit, but you save so much time! Think of all the time you wasted waiting to hear your favorite song on the radio! That’s how we sold records to begin with, people couldn’t wait to hear them.

And this benefited the record companies, but radio was always in a different business, selling ads, and record companies don’t need to only have their wares exposed on radio. Hell, the internet gives them many more options. It’s just a matter of adjusting to the new reality.

No one wants to adjust, everybody wants to self-righteously promote their identity in the past.

Sure, I loved free format radio…IN 1968!

Sure, I loved iTunes…FIFTEEN YEARS AGO!

Sure, I downloaded a lot of tracks from Napster, et al, but what a waste of time! That’s right, people will pay for convenience.

Go where the people are, give them what they want.

Radio’s got a huge future in non-music products. But not on AM, new cars come without AM radios, turns out electric motors interfere with AM. You reinvent the wheel. Who’s the most famous guy in radio, the most profitable, the one with the most impact? HOWARD STERN! Rush Limbaugh doesn’t come close, his audience is made up of old codgers who are fine with living in the past, but not Howard’s. And Howard almost never plays a record, he’s telling a story, he reinvented the format.

The past always comes back, BUT WITH A TWIST!

Don’t tell me how it once was, but how it will be!


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