Friday, May 10, 2019

Canadian Music Week-1 | Lefsetz Letter

Linda Perry insulted the audience.

Unfortunately, I didn’t hear the beginning, I walked in when someone from the audience was singing. After that, Perry said she was looking for rock stars, and no one in the audience was one.

She said you can feel it, you can see it, the way they dress, the way they handle themselves…and then she spread her arms and said I’M A ROCK STAR! I’M A ROCK STAR 24/7!!

She convinced me. And I can’t say I’m her biggest fan.

But do you know how hard it is to make it, and to continue to have success? NEARLY IMPOSSIBLE!

Perry radiated uniqueness, with attitude.

Then she started lamenting today’s scene. Nile Rodgers did this too. Is today’s music really that bad or are these oldsters over the hill?

I’ll let you answer that question.

But there’s a yearning for what once was.

Perry bemoaned the focus on social media. It was all about the RECORD!

Oldsters know this, but youngsters don’t, they focus on social media.

This guy Rick Barker, a supposed social media guru, came next. It was billed as “How To Become A Social Media Ninja In Under An Hour.” But he didn’t have an hour, so he just hit the highlights. Actually, he said you could watch his presentation free at Go for it!

I had no doubt Barker was personally successful. He was driven, with attitude, but when he started telling the assembled multitude how to leverage Instagram Live, and to tweet twenty times a day because people don’t see it, I wanted to stand up like the Nazi in “The Producers” and say…THIS IS EVERYTHING WRONG WITH THE MUSIC BUSINESS TODAY! THE ENDLESS HYPE TURNING US OFF COMPLETELY!

It was the opposite of Linda Perry.

And when Rick gave a commercial at the end, selling his services, with a cell phone number for emergencies, I realized he was just another hustler like everybody else. He said he was Taylor Swift’s first manager, could be, but I’ve never heard of him. And if you’re on the verge of superstardom his techniques would probably work, but like Linda Perry said, there were no rock stars in the audience.

I have social anxiety. So I don’t introduce myself to people and oftentimes run in the other direction when I see people I know. But when Fran DeFeo buttonholed me and insisted I come to the green room to hang with Merck…

I only knew Merck in e-mail, so I agreed.

I did not know I was going to meet Dave Stewart.

The thing about celebrities is you have a mental image of them, often at odds with who they really are, especially musicians (as for “creatives,” I hate that term, EVERYBODY is creative, and it’s just a way for those struggling to label themselves, I’ve never heard anyone successful refer themselves as a “creative.”)

And after telling Dave I saw the Eurythmics on their first American tour, at the Palace, we engaged in conversation.

I guess since he’s produced so many hits, I expected Dave to be edgy, but he was soft. Like you could immediately become friends. We bonded over his great work with Stevie Nicks. If you haven’t listened to “In Your Dreams,” you should, it’s the best solo work she’s ever done, the only thing that comes close is “Bella Donna.” That’s the problem with oldsters, even if they cut great new stuff it can’t get traction.

And Dave told me one of the albums he did with Stevie was cut in a week, live in the studio.

I remarked how it was about capturing the magic, more than perfecting the sound.

And Dave told me the acts often had a vision they were so busy trying to achieve that they missed the destination.

I said it was our mistakes that made us human, that endeared us to people, that we had to leave in.

And I thought the conversation was over, we’d entered the ballroom, but Dave wanted to continue. He said the intro to “Sweet Dreams” was a mistake, and then he demonstrated it to me, slapping an air drum, pushing out the sounds from his mouth.

I relate to musicians best. The business comes second, if it comes at all.

And after being interviewed about his new company Hipgnosis, Merck and Nile Rodgers brought Dave up on stage to sign his new Hipgnosis contract. And then he started to talk…

About his teens asking if he’d heard of this act Etta James!

He laughed, said that’s the beauty of the internet, it’s all available.

And he said he was still writing songs, that he and Nile came up with one on the drive over.

He’s a lifer.

And so am I.


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