Friday, March 22, 2019

Grass Roots | Lefsetz Letter

Today it’s from the bottom up, not the top down.

This is a complete one-eighty from the twentieth century. Used to be you aligned yourself with corporations which seeded media outlets for you to get traction. But this was back in a limited world with few slots, when entertainment was scarce, before Spotify, before Napster.

Now, that paradigm does not work.

Bernie Sanders raised $5.9 million on his first day of fundraising. Beto O’Rourke $6.1 million. All from individuals. If you’re taking money from the corporation, you’re gonna lose, just like Hillary.

The media missed Trump.

And it’s missing what’s going on in the music business. Conventional wisdom is it’s the same as it ever was, hit acts played on the radio are the most important. But just like in the MTV era, the faster you make it, the quicker you lose it. But the real winners are not those hungering for playlists or radio spins or even a record deal, but those forging relationships with fans.

It’s fan passion you want, not corporate indifference, where you’re a cog in the wheel.

Corporations are not to be trusted, fat cats either, on either the right or left of the political spectrum. And conventional wisdom amongst music acolytes is today’s hit acts haven’t earned it, they’ve been propped up by the machine, there’s nothing there. They’re losers, just like Hillary, endorsed by the press, irrelevant to them.

If you’ve got something genuine, you’ve got to start outside the system. Otherwise you’re going to be compromised by the system. You’ve got to use the new tech tools to establish a fan base and grow it. And the truth is your fans grow it, and radio is the icing on the cake, but there’s a good chance radio isn’t even gonna help you anymore, because your fans want to own you, although they can appreciate your broader success by saying they were there first.

That’s the litmus test, whether you have fans. Other than your significant other, family and friends. Are those not connected closed? If so, they’ll give you their time and money and work 24/7 as a marketing machine.

People don’t personally know Bernie or Beto, but they’re donating anyway.

Hillary went to corporate donors, who don’t give the money away for free, she was inherently compromised.

You can’t be compromised in the twenty first century.

Don’t look at the acts that have the biggest grosses, but those who sell out. You feel a rush seeing your favorite act up close in a small venue that supersedes seeing the superstar in an arena or stadium. You remember this event for your entire life.

In other words, you’re a star in your own world. Every act is a silo. There is no competition, other than with yourself. Is your fanbase growing, are your grosses growing? Do your fans want new music irrelevant of if it’s too soon for radio?

And there are so many ways to monetize. But you’ve got to do it yourself. The personal touch is everything. You want to meet and greet your audience, be available online. Sure, eventually you might get too busy and too big to do this, but that means you’re on your way.

Everything great starts from outside. But historically, you had to sell out to go big. Today, no one’s that big, no one’s ubiquitous. And just by aligning yourself with a major/corporation you’re compromising yourself. Because their goals are not aligned with yours. They’re about money, they’re about short term, they’re about what’s expedient. You’re willing to wait for money, delayed gratification is the way all the tech companies were built…have success, then charge. And you’re in it for the long haul. You’re fans first, not stockholders first.

And passionate fans will support you. And, once again, being around a long time pays dividends in today’s cacophonous world. People don’t want fly by night, they want to invest for years!


No comments: