A couple of us in the office subscribe to “Lefsetz Letters” – a music analysis newsletter + blog. This post, specifically about EDM, hit our inboxes last night. It’s not up on the blog archive yet, so we thought we’d repost here. Interesting reading.
What are your thoughts?
———- Forwarded message ———-
From: Bob Lefsetz
Date: Wed, Jun 13, 2012 at 6:34 PM
1. Word Of Mouth
(This one hits home for us – Shambhala was built on word of mouth… we’ve never done any advertising. In the late 90s when we started out, no one would sponsor us – and thank goodness they didn’t. It forced us to get creative, and persevere on our own. The results, as you know, have been amazing.)
The media was there last.
This is akin to the seventies, when your favorite band finally hit and
then everybody went back and bought the catalog and you could take a
victory lap. Only in this case, as a result of the changes in the
media landscape, it took more like twenty years.
Electronic music was closed out of the old gatekeeper game. Believing
not enough people were interested, they stifled it.
The Internet broke EDM. You could hear it, see it and talk about it.
On some level, it’s no different from the Arab Spring. It was about
communication. Unfettered by the machine. We keep hearing from the
disinformation committee known as the RIAA/major labels that the
Internet has been bad for music. EDM proves them wrong. EDM burgeoned
because of the Internet!
2. The Scene/Culture
There was culture at Woodstock, at the Fillmore, but there’s no
culture at the Jiffy Lube/Verizon/Car Wreck Amphitheatre. It’s only
about commerce. The Top Forty is skin deep, the EDM scene goes to your
core. It’s not about getting up close, getting the right ticket, it’s
about inclusion as opposed to exclusion. Which is the mantra of the
generation embracing it.
3. The Music
We’re at the advent. It’s kind of like the Beatles being on Ed
Sullivan and everybody going out and buying a guitar. Except that now
everybody’s making music at home and utilizing SoundCloud. We couldn’t
foresee “Sgt. Pepper” in 1964 and we should be optimistic as to where
electronic music is going as opposed to dismissing it.
(This section references Soundcloud & The Beatles…. how can I not share the A.Skillz Beatles Minimix?)
4. Killing It
This is the number one problem facing EDM today. Its embrace by the
mainstream in a dash for cash, which will hollow out the scene so fast
you’ll think the boy bands were forever.
It all comes down to the deejays. The deejays are in control of their
culture, just like traditional musical artists. Can the deejays say
no? First and foremost to the money?
We’ve had a short term mentality in the music business ever since
1981, the beginning of MTV. Let’s overexpose it, get every last dollar
and then leave its carcass behind.
And once something breaks through today, it’s like the MTV of yore,
except instead of having to sit in front of the tube waiting for your
video, you can go online and dig deeper and deeper, feeding your
In other words, EDM has to disconnect from traditional business to survive.
The deejays have to say no to major media. They have to say no to
endorsements. They have to say no to everybody who wants to get
between the music and their fans.
I know, I know, this is contrary to the so-called American way, where
you utilize your fame to overexpose and become profitable, a paradigm
Paris Hilton defined and Kim Kardashian refined. And they both got
rich, but they’re both despised.
That’s not what an artist wants. An artists wants fans, who love them, forever.
That helped put the music into every nook and cranny. The
collaborations that ended up on Top Forty radio. This is both good and
bad. It’s good, because why not have the music exposed. It’s bad,
because it muddies the waters and risks overexposure.
6. The Music
That’s what will grant the scene longevity. Dance clubs come and go.
But great music remains.
7. Bloviating About It
It doesn’t matter what I say, never mind the mainstream media.
Electronic music arrived fully-formed, with its own stars, promoters
and infrastructure. Now the traditional forces want in. Used to be
they were necessary, because of their power, money and influence. Now
you can grow these at home.
The deejays are rich enough, they don’t need the label’s money.
The gigs are so successful, the promoters have profit.
And the media can’t spread the word to anybody but outsiders, old
farts who don’t matter anyway. EDM lives on the Internet.
8. A Fad
Are the Yankees a fad? How about the Lakers?
We have been mistreating the music, paying it no respect for decades.
This is a chance for change. New people beget new systems.
9. Fans first
So far, this has been the case. But in the traditional concert
promotion sphere, this is anything but true. From the artists on down,
it’s all about ripping fans off, like the subterfuge of ticket fees.
Never mind the overpriced concessions.
(With Shambhala going 15 years strong, EDM certainly doesn’t seem like a fad to us… and we have always believed in putting our fans first. It’s all about the people on the dancefloor!)
10. Music Should Be Free
You can charge, but only for high quality and singles. It’s truly
about the show, how can you get people to go?