Thursday, February 6, 2020

Ignorance Is Bliss | Lefsetz Letter

You don’t analyze the past to see how the future will be disrupted.

The music business was the canary in the coal mine for digital disruption. First the industry didn’t believe it, then it said it didn’t make sense, then it tried to stop it and finally, after nearly a decade, it accepted it. And even though older customers have adopted the new technologies, many oldster artists have not, yearning for the days of yore, labeling streaming the devil, staying on the sidelines to their detriment.

This is what is happening in politics right now. So-called experts are looking at statistical models, they’re looking at history to predict the future, and they’re getting it wrong.

Disruption usually comes from the uninitiated, the ignorant, those who if they knew better wouldn’t even begin.

And the late Clayton Christensen said the new product is always cheap and shoddy at first, but over time it improves and takes over the old.

Can you say Bernie Sanders?

In 2016 they said it was impossible. No one wanted a Democratic Socialist. Then the DNC tried to stop him, to their detriment, it hurt Hillary Clinton’s campaign and turned off Sanders supporters. And now, four years later, these outsiders, the so-called “Bernie Bros,” are organized and triumphing and the usual suspects just cannot believe it, they want to stop it, they believe Bloomberg is their hope, not knowing it isn’t about Bernie himself, but his ideas.

Napster was sued out of business.

KaZaA burst on to the scene without a centralized database, which killed Napster legally.

After P2P sites we got digital lockers.

Sure, people wanted free music. But at least they wanted the music! Think about how many products you can’t even give away, because there’s no desire.

And this great desire for the music and easy and cheap distribution suddenly made acts famous, able to tour, where they could not before. Suddenly marketing was online instead of on radio and in print. An alternative system was being built that many in the industry still don’t understand and accept as radio and print mean ever less. Just because radio has the largest market share, the greatest number of ears, that does not mean it will dominate forever. Look at network television, with its declining ratings, based on an advertising model. It’s being creamed by pay cable and streaming. And Amazon has bundled streaming with shipping and new streaming companies are burgeoning, did you see the Disney+ numbers, and people are cutting the cord and…

As for Disney+’s numbers, the truth is people will pay if it’s a fair offering. Disney+ is $6.99 a month, streaming music services like Spotify are $9.99.

And streaming music sites are ahead of visual streaming sites. You get ALL the product for your $9.99. There are so many candidates today because you can get the word out online. Hell, the Democrats blame their loss in 2016 on what happened online. The internet fractures society, creates deep niches, few dominate, but when it impacts everybody, one person can rise above, that’s the essence of Trump.

And that’s what the Democrats want to avoid with Bernie. They want someone famous in the old world not the new. They want someone who is talked about on TV shows and in the newspaper as opposed to those talked about online. They want candidates who take money from the usual suspects, i.e. corporations and billionaires, as opposed to the general public. They want CONTROL!

But they don’t realize disruption comes with chaos. And you’re never going back, best to ride the wave and see where it takes you as you try to make sense of it all.

And now even the disrupted are being disrupted. That’s what’s happening with Facebook and Twitter. Mark Zuckerberg denied there was a problem with false advertising on his site. He thought if he ignored it it would go away. But the public was up in arms. He thinks his sites are too big, he refuses to take meaningful action. Meanwhile, Twitter is trying but it’s playing Whac-A-Mole. Is there a new site in the offing that eliminates this problem, these falsehoods?

The truth is we are no longer living in the pre-globalization era. Just like the public thought CDs were overpriced, with one good track amongst the dozen, people are pissed that the elites got rich while they did not. Kinda like the stock market…sure it’s good, but how many people actually own stock?

And we no longer live in the pre-internet era. Now word can spread everywhere, even though today it’s hard to gain eyeballs and information can be inaccurate.

And then there are bozos like the failing Shadow, which created the Iowa app.

Shadow was killed by market forces, it was resuscitated by an infusion by Acronym. And isn’t it funny that Shadow was started by a Hillary Clinton staffer? This is no different from all the non-techies who took VC money to create apps and products that were nonstarters, or failures like Johnny-come-latelies always fail. Because they don’t understand what disruption is about, they just want some of that money.

Kinda like Hollywood. Everybody with any cash is invested in tech products. Better to stay in your area of expertise, employ your own skills to triumph. Don’t create an incubator, double-down on your assets, do what you do best, create new products, like Baby Yoda with Disney+.

The news media was reasonably accurate when other industries were disrupted. But now that it itself is being disrupted it keeps complaining and getting it wrong.

Newspapers must survive, just like the album. All news online is fake. You need pros to tell you what to think.

And then stories ignored by the big boys were broken online and blogs push the needle and what do the newspapers and TV keep doing? Featuring and promoting the power players of yore while they denigrate those of today and tomorrow if they acknowledge them at all.

“The New York Times” is marginalizing itself every day. With its anti-Bernie screeds and drivel like today’s Thomas Edsall piece

If Bernie Wins, Where Will He Take the Democratic Party?

quoting all the old “experts” on what is happening, quoting old models that have nothing to do with today (kinda like the “Billboard” charts, trying to satiate the major labels it keeps adjusting its model into irrelevancy).

Bob Dylan had it right over fifty years ago. He said “don’t follow leaders, watch the parking meters.”

But that was back when music drove the culture and it was all about being the other and pushing the envelope while you poked the establishment.

Then again, the sixties were the last time the youth revolted.

The little girls understood.

But their parents did not.

And today those kids are the parents and they too have no clue.


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