Thursday, December 20, 2018

Artist Of The Year | Lefsetz Letter

Ed Sheeran.

In a business that only cares about money, he triumphed. He grossed $432.4 million dollars, and an incredible percentage of that was net, because just like a comedian, it’s just Ed on stage, albeit with a bit of production, and think, about that, in an era where it’s all about the spectacle, one guy, on stage, enthralled millions. And he did it with SONGS!

They tell us it’s beats.

But they’re wrong, it’s songs, with melodies, that you can sing along to.

Not that Ed gets a concomitant proportion of press. There’s no story there. Hard-working man pays his dues and triumphs, there is no penumbra, just the music!

But insiders hate him, if for no other reason than he’s got so much success.

So what does Ed do? He just keeps on singing, he rarely reacts.

Meanwhile, those much less successful are involved in online feuds, proving once again that music triumphs over all.

And the press is clueless.

The press is all over Taylor Swift. She grossed $345.1 million, and did it with 2,888,892 tickets sold, as opposed to Ed’s 4,860,482. But let’s see if Taylor can do these numbers the next time, I doubt it, not only because of the failure of “Reputation” in the marketplace (it was a dud with little mindshare, don’t tell me about the late single’s success), but because she charged what the market will bear.

I.e. slow ticketing.

What a bunch of hogwash. You don’t see Metallica doing this. Metallica is only about their fans, they’re trying to protect their fans, Taylor is doing battle with scalpers, who cares?

And if you really want to do battle with scalpers, go paperless, just don’t raise prices.

Because it hurts you. That’s the dirty little secret. People are pissed.

People are nowhere near as pissed when they can’t get into a sold-out show, they pay the scalpers or shut up and get wiser next time.

But by going to slow ticketing, you’re just illustrating your greed. Which is fine for the Stones, they’ve been mercenaries for decades, but if you’re not on your retirement tour, it’s a bad idea. Money flows through your fingers, you want to be able to make more, credibility and identity are everything.

And that’s what Sheeran sold.

He was the only act to go clean in stadiums in the U.K. That’s how hot the demand was.

And he’s in the game, making new hit music. Hell, they had to change the U.K. charts to undercut his dominance.


First you’ve got to pay your dues. The empty suits propped up on hype rarely last.

Second, you’ve got to put out a steady stream of material.

Third, what kind of material is that? Classic or evanescent.

Be true to yourself, don’t follow trends, and don’t react. This is why all the popsters failed, they added beats, they tried to be hip-hop when they were not. And once you start reacting… You’re playing into their hands, playing their game, and you can never win, like Elizabeth Warren with her Native American heritage and Obama with his birth certificate.

You play your own game.

And you don’t need extras.

Music is enough to get rich. Gig merch is enough…t-shirts, hats, stickers. Once you start endorsing products, selling water, you’re no longer a musician, you’re a brand, and brands fall out of favor.

But art is forever.

Expect to hear Ed Sheeran’s songs at weddings in decades hence.

As for the rest of the Spotify Top 50?

I doubt it.


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