Tag Archives: Lefsetz

In My Room: On the Sound of Music

Anyone can record a song from their living room and put it out. That over-saturation of music, it’s a good thing.—Zak Bia, Cool Hunting

Forget the big budget records, more and more music is being made by individuals in bedrooms, home studios, on a budget.—Bob Lefsetz, The Lefsetz Letter

The first quote is from a guy who has started his own recording company, Field Trip Records. The context isn’t so much about recording per se as it is about breaking artists. Obviously, last year was pretty much a wash in terms of what he calls one of “the best ways to break artists”: “through live shows and showcases.” So it was a matter of recording (“I signed this kid when he was 15, and he was doing all this on his own from his bedroom”) and getting the music out into the environment at large.

Presumably that is now much easier, although it is probable that given the number of people who were recording in their homes because there was little else to do after March 2020 there is going to be a tremendous glut of music to choose from. Which will either lead to people (1) accepting things that are less than first-rate because they are interested in anything new and different or (2) ignoring much of the available output, wanting only the best audio fidelity.

Which leads me to the point being made by Lefsetz. In his case he was writing about Spatial Audio on Apple Music. His beef is that existing recordings are being remixed via Dolby Atmos. According to the Dolby website, Atmos “It starts with the artist. Dolby Atmos technology lets them place each voice, instrument, or sound in its own space. Wherever you hear it, you’re in the center.”

The question at hand is whether the “artist” is involved—or even the engineer—in reformatting the music from its original format—probably stereo—to Atmos.

And these audio changes are something that Lefsetz decidedly does not like: “Actually, the more I listen to these Spatial Audio cuts, the more offensive they become. . . . . These are not the original records, they’ve been messed with, they’re not even facsimiles, they’re bastardizations.”

Continue reading In My Room: On the Sound of Music

Napster Creator Has New Plan for Music Biz

In a post about hanging out at the home of Quincy Jones, industry gadfly Bob Lefsetz leaks Napster creator Shawn Fanning’s ideas about revitalizing the music industry:

Shawn Fanning blew my mind. The record business pariah talked about the power of gaming. That’s how you get into the mind of the younger generation. Allow them to earn badges, let them feel good about achieving something!

One thing Shawn said was truly brilliant. He wants to quantify our discovery, our dedication. Imagine being able to prove that you were into the band early, before your friends, before everybody else. The Web allows this. That statistic can be registered!

Interesting idea, for sure. As always, nobody’s giving any details about how they’d monetize it. But hey, this is the internet: you don’t have to generate revenue, you just hold out until you inevitably get bought out by Google or Apple.

Continue reading Napster Creator Has New Plan for Music Biz

The Death of the Superstar

Music industry gadfly Bob Lefsetz reads an article in the New York Times about declining television ratings and extrapolates the death of the superstar:

Back when the music business was fat and happy, in 1998-9, “E.R.” had a 17.8 rating. So, in ten years, a popular network show lost almost HALF of its viewers. So, if you think that the Boss or U2 or any superstar of yore is selling so poorly because of piracy, you just haven’t thought enough about the equation. There are only 24 hours in a day, music is fighting against not only television, but video games and the Internet too. Furthermore, every record is fighting against every other record in history. You can only play one record at one time. Do you want to spin the newly-hyped crap or an old classic? If you do create a new classic, how hard is it to get the word out?

In other words, we’re seeing the death of the superstar. Maybe one or two could emerge, kind of like “American Idol”, but the ubiquitous star, known by everybody, is history.

We’ve been talking about the phenomenon of fragmentation on the message boards. It’s difficult to discuss this topic without veering into fogeyism, but keep in mind that the lack of a single dominant cultural authority has been a great boon for independent music and other niche scenes.

The only people who need superstars are the assholes at Live Nation (formerly Clear Channel)/Ticketmaster who require acts capable of selling out their soulless enormodomes.

2008 Albums Sold – Year To Date

Music industry gadfly Bob Lefsetz pulls out some of the year’s top selling albums to date and gives his comments. Here are the albums he showcases:

1. Lil Wayne “Tha Carter III” 2,671,816

2. Coldplay “Viva La Vida” 1,905,679

3. Kid Rock “Rock N Roll Jesus” 1,712,661

4. Jack Johnson “Sleep Through The Static” 1,437,691

5. AC/DC “Black Ice” 1,319,914

6. Taylor Swift 1,316,801

8. Leona Lewis “Spirit” 1,249,522

9. Mariah Carey “E=MC2” 1,193,599

12. Jonas Brothers “A Little Bit Longer” 1,096,771

14. “Camp Rock” 1,083,351

15. Usher “Here I Stand” 1,070,771

18. Miley Cyrus “Breakout” 1,015,480

23. Disturbed “Indestructible” 796,223

28. Colbie Caillat “Coco” 713,786

29. Rick Ross “Trilla” 700,213

33. Madonna “Hard Candy” 673,475

37. Radiohead “In Rainbows” 633,638

42. 3 Doors Down 610,717

46. Alan Jackson “Good Time” 592,066

48. Duffy “Rockferry” 579,191

53. Slipknot “All Hope Is Gone” 541,044

54. Katy Perry “One Of The Boys” 537,160

66. Maroon 5 “It Won’t Be Soon Before Long” 457,126

86. Weezer (Red Album) 375,952

87. Sheryl Crow “Detours” 375,781

94. Panic At The Disco “Pretty Odd” 354,394

It’s not an exhaustive list, since Lefsetz probably doesn’t want to get in trouble with SoundScan. Then again, SoundScan requires subscribers to round to the nearest thousand when publishing its data, so maybe Bob doesn’t really care. Regardless, let’s fill in the blanks. Can anybody guess what #7 and #10 are?

Frampton shows Lefsetz the Way

Grumpy music industry vet Bob Lefsetz unexpectedly finds joy at—of all places—a Peter Frampton concert: “I was happy in a way I never expected, in a way I thought I’d lost. I was who I used to be. I didn’t look seventeen, on the outside I was old and wrinkled, but on the INSIDE, where it COUNTS, I was the kid who could let go of the bullshit of life and let music take me for a ride.”