Wednesday, April 29, 2020

News Update | Lefsetz Letter


“On Spotify, the largest streaming service by subscriptions, cumulative streams of the top 200 U.S. songs have fallen in recent weeks tumbling 28% from the week ending March 12 to the week ending April 16 to the low point for the year so far. The drop-off is especially pronounced, given that those weeks saw new album releases from major streaming artists including J Balvin, the Weeknd, Childish Gambino and Dua Lipa. Meanwhile, catalog music – songs more than 18 months old – has been on the rise and hit a high for the year in the week ended April 9, accounting for 63% of total audio streams, up from 60% the week ended March 12, according to Nielsen/MRC.”

“Classic Rock Gives Comfort to Music Fans During Coronavirus Lockdown – Stressed-out listeners and families stuck at home tune out pop hits and turn up ‘comfort music’

For six weeks we’ve been hearing a non-story, about the decline in music streams. Forget that they’re going back up, who cares! The paradigm has shifted, it’s no longer about sales, it’s about subscriptions. Meanwhile, they keep going up, up, up, look at today’s Spotify numbers.

In other words, there’s a pot of money. It all gets divided whether there are ten streams or ten billion streams! So, it comes down to what percentage of total streams you’ve got.

And as you can read above, current music is down, despite household name releases. What does this mean?

Don’t read the rest of this article, it’s complete hogwash, about people wanting to listen to “comfort” music. Come on, now that you’re at home has it really affected the KIND of music you listen to, significantly?

No, you like your music.

And it turns out people like catalog much better than the new stuff.

And for the first time ever, the labels get paid prodigiously when this catalog is consumed. Used to be most catalog titles were cut out and unavailable for purchase, and it didn’t matter how many times a record was spun at home, the label didn’t get paid for this!

So, is it possible that today’s music is just not quite as good? That it doesn’t mean as much to people? That it’s not as sticky? That it’s overhyped and underconsumed?

Appears so.

As the labels and the media have driven headlong into a niche, the customers are abandoning them. Turns out we do not live totally in a hip-hop, vapid pop consumption world. Oh, there’s a lot of chatter about those verticals, but that’s all it is.

Seems like if a label wanted to prepare itself for the future, it would make and promote more genres of music, and if it wanted insurance, it would be best off imitating what once was, that’s been the road to success for country music, as Tom Petty said at the Fonda, today’s country music IS THE ROCK MUSIC OF THE SEVENTIES!


Post Malone x Nirvana Tribute – Livestream

Speaking of rock…

If you were ever a Nirvana fan, you’ll dig this. Post Malone pivoted from rock to make it in today’s hip-hop world. Here, he returns to his roots with a vengeance, and demonstrates that he truly is talented. Talk about a glorious noise…

Turns out three guitars and drums can still tell the truth. This performance encapsulates attitude and anger, the essence, along with hooky songs, that drove Kurt Cobain and his bandmates to ubiquity.

No story reaches everybody these days, everybody watches nothing, furthermore we have livestream fatigue. So, this was a story, but most people don’t know it. As of this date, nearly nine million people have watched and over $4.3 million dollars have been raised and now Post Malone is asking the PUBLIC how to distribute a million. So, it turns out Post gets it when all the aged do not. You involve the public, you don’t talk down to people, certainly not during this Covid-19 era.


The article e-mailed to me most this past week was from the “Irish Times”:

“Donald Trump has destroyed the country he promised to make great again – The world has loved, hated and envied the US, Now, for the first time we pity it”

Suddenly, everything is up for grabs. You know this is true when the “Wall Street Journal” says the sun has set on the Reagan philosophy that government is the enemy:

“Coronavirus Means the Era of Big Government Is…Back – History shows that national shocks – the Depression, World War II, the financial crisis – have a way of expanding the role of government in lasting ways. This one is looking like no exception.”

But of all these articles, the one you’ve got to read is this:

“Trump’s Response to Virus Reflects a Long Disregard for Science – The President’s Covid-19 response has extended the administration’s practice of undermining scientific expertise for political purposes”

Let’s pull the lens back, let’s not talk about being tribal, let’s try to get some perspective.

The truth is, the rest of the world, especially Europe, is shaking its head at us. We pulled out of the Paris Agreement, we’ve pulled back from globalization, we’re pulling funding from the World Health Organization…our nation is becoming a second-class citizen, with less power, while we stay home quarantined.

Not that going out would make much difference.

You see, while we fiddled for forty years, the rest of the world modernized, and caught up to the U.S. and in many ways superseded it. Yes, we’ve been arguing about social issues, gay marriage, abortion, everything but the real thing. There’s been no vision. If for no other reason than almost everybody isn’t getting paid for the future, but today. The government is paid to look at the future, but government has been denigrated and hobbled.

So now what?

If you want to go deeper, I recommend George Packer’s piece in “The Atlantic”:

“We Are Living in a Failed State – The coronavirus didn’t break America. It revealed what was already broken.”

You’re probably not going to click on any of the above links, so I’ll just say the bill has now come due for all these years of dicking around. We’ve got no plan for the future. Income inequality is rampant, those with money on both the left and right don’t want to sacrifice it and if the news isn’t about nitwits doing nothing in Hollywood or online, it’s all political team sports, all the time.

Meanwhile, no one has the time to become a student of the game, so they’re influenced by their environment, they don’t question their beliefs, they may not have the education to question their beliefs.

But the big wheel keeps on turning.

The coronavirus just revealed our lack of planning, the U.S. is just like its residents who are a paycheck or two away from being broke. We were humming along, corporations were buying back their stock, there was no preparation for a rainy day, and then it came. And the funny thing is everybody expects to be made whole, no one can lose out. I’m not paying my rent, screw the landlord, the landlord doesn’t pay his mortgage to the bank and the bank gets the money from the government which the people pay for. There’s no free lunch. This epidemic is affecting everybody. No one is immune to injury, whether it be physical or emotional or financial. But we now live in a country where that cannot be the case, someone’s got to pay and one thing for sure is that entity is the enemy, because for damn sure it can’t be MY FAULT!


“AMC Theater Chain Blasts Universal’s Plans to Release More Movies Digitally – Open letter accuses ‘Trolls’ studio of showing ‘zero concern’ for theater operators”

And now Regal is on AMC’s side.

This is what happens when you deny the future.

No company is forever. Can you say GE?

Of course, GE still exists, but it’s a shadow of what it once was. GE lived in the past. You have to innovate every damn day. It’s not like the theater chains couldn’t see VOD coming, just like the government and the public at large, it can’t accept reality, wants relief while the trend is against them.

People like VOD. And the dirty little secret is Universal makes more this way, the split is less. The studios get 80% of VOD but only 50% of ticket sales at the theater. And compared to the previous “Trolls” movie, Universal netted more!

Now, just like people enjoy vinyl, people like to go to the theater.

Then there are people who are sick of the theater experience for so many reasons, the drive, the parking hassle, the cost, the texting and talking, never mind the scheduled screening time. The public voted years ago, it wants on demand. And now, Covid-19 has delivered it for first run movies. Do AMC and Regal really think they can put the genie back in the bottle?

Of course not!

Meanwhile, AMC and Regal are public companies, meaning the execs get paid handsomely but stockholders pay the price. And many own stock and don’t even realize it, with their pension plan, so the loser in all this mismanagement is YOU!


I ask you, what’s the truth?
Is that company in Oxford really that close to a vaccine?

“In Race for a Coronavirus Vaccine, an Oxford Group Leaps Ahead – As scientists at the Jenner Institute prepare for mass clinical trials, new tests show their vaccine to be effective in monkeys.”

And, do we need to be quarantined or do we need to rush to open the schools? Forget red state/blue state, California’s governor Newsom has appeared to say both!:

“California could begin new school year as early as July, Gov. Newsom says”

Meanwhile, it’s getting warm and people FEEL like the Covid-19 threat is past:

“‘Quarantine Fatigue’ Has More People Going Outside -New research shows that people are venturing out more frequently, and traveling farther from home.”

But feel is no match for science, as we saw in the article above.

Yes, Trump has no better scientific feel than the rest of us, and ours is not to be trusted.

Meanwhile, Biden won’t come out of his bunker and address the Tara Reade situation and now the left is on him:

“Biden himself should address the Tara Reade allegations and release relevant records”

Rebecca Traister had the most insightful analysis in “New York” magazine’s “Cut”:

“The Biden Trap – As the candidate faces credible assault allegations, his progressive female colleagues are being offered a poisoned chalice.”

Meanwhile, Reade herself looks worse every day:

“Biden Accuser, Tara Reade, Allegedly Stole from Non-Profit Organization”

This is what we’re fighting over. A he-said/she-said sexual case from decades ago while our economy is burning and we’ve got no national leadership. This is how far we’ve come. It’s gotcha politics on both sides, and it’s we, the public, who suffer. Meanwhile, all these people in the government and those pontificating on TV all have jobs that pay handsomely and come with great health insurance.

That’s the America we now live in.

Facts are irrelevant.

Science and expertise are not to be trusted.

And no one is steering the ship.

So, everybody’s forced to look out for themselves.

But the last I checked, we live in a society, amongst other people whom we interact with and depend upon.

So tell me how this is gonna work?


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