Music biz guru Bob Lefsetz has been publishing “The Lefsetz Letter,” an industry newsletter, for over 25 years. After reading this Newsweek article about 37signals, he offered some great commentary about similar lessons he’s learned in the music business.
Here he talks about how all the marketing in the world can’t replace a product that sells itself:
As Ahmet Ertegun once said, a hit is a record that gets a listener to jump out of bed, put on his clothes and go to the all night record store to buy it after hearing it on the radio. I listen to the radio in my car all day long. But it’s rare that I have to write down the title of a song and rush to my computer to download the track. Happened with Gnarls Barkley’s “Crazy”. And, in the CD era, with Alanis Morissette’s “Hand In Pocket”, I had to go home and rifle through hundreds of CDs to find “Jagged Little Pill”. And then there’s Walt Wilkins/Pat Green’s “Wrapped”… Point is, hit records sell themselves, like drugs. If your record is not selling itself, you’re never going to make it. In other words, if you’re working me, you’re in trouble. Your track should be so great I hear about it from someone else!
And then he explains why he loves picking fights:
I was listening to Richard Roeper on Howard Stern, he lamented the guest hosts from Hollywood who co-starred with him on “At The Movies” would say nothing negative, for fear of alienating some potential business contact. But it’s when you say something negative that you endear yourself to a group! And if you’re offering a better product…
Are you willing to state your truth and own it? Elton John talks shit about other people. But most acts demur. I’d like Jon Bon Jovi if he just said SOMETHING or SOMEONE sucked. But he’s so busy sucking the public’s dick I miss no chance to beat him up, point out his band’s foibles, because he’s not real…and I know many people agree with me. Then again, most people are indifferent! And only by taking a side can you get them to care!
The whole thing is full of gems. Check it out.