Modern Marketing

1. Take a long hard look at yourself.

What kind of music do you make? Pop or genre tunes?

If you don’t see your music fitting in with the Spotify Top 50, you probably don’t need a label, you need a COMMUNITY! A group of active talkers who live for the music, like the Americana fanatics. They’re hungry for new tunes, food that will feed them. Don’t walk into the wilderness without a community, there’s too much noise, your message will be drowned out. Communities nurture new acts, spread the word, and sustain old ones. Press also helps in communities, it’s seen as a badge of honor when you’re in the “New York Times” or on “CBS Sunday Morning,” all your believers will tweet, e-mail and Facebook about it and this will keep your career going, even if it’s not a triumphant moment. Your goal is to quit your day job, to have a sustaining career, and this is dependent upon fans.

But if you do see your music fitting in on the Spotify Top 50… Sign with a major label, you need their relationships. The playlist is everything and the major can get you placed. You’ll get a chance, but you’ll sink or swim based on the material itself. The major can just get you started. And if you gain traction on Spotify, the major can jump you to terrestrial radio, that’s how it happens these days, everything gets started on the streaming service.

But what about Apple? And YouTube?

In the rearview mirror. Apple Music is hampered by not having a free tier. Furthermore, its subscribers skew older, and older people take fewer chances. As for YouTube… Streams on Spotify outstrip those on the video service these days. YouTube is a good place to actually see the video, but if you’re listening, Spotify is much better.

As for exclusives…

They’re history. If you see someone making an exclusive streaming deal you know they haven’t gotten the memo. The truth is Spotify’s market share is so much bigger than its competitors that if you’re not on the Swedish service your music will be hampered and it may not ever recover. Spotify is no longer asleep, Troy Carter has made a huge difference. There are products to enhance the visibility of your project, there’s seeding on playlists, and if you make an exclusive elsewhere…you lose all this, you’re screwed, the joke is on you, you need Spotify to start and sustain you. The old metrics, first week “Billboard” chart, impressive publicity campaign, they’re a joke, a waste of money. You get the word out online and then Spotify gives you a chance and if you gain traction they push you further, they’re along for the ride. And if you don’t sign up with Spotify from the get-go, you’re left at the station, suitcase in your hand.

2. Exceptions to the above.

Country and hip-hop, the latter invades the Spotify Top 50, the former does not yet. If you make country music, you want to be with a major. But not necessarily if you’re in the hip-hop world. Hip-hop is a giant community, word is spread independently of the press, you can come from nowhere and make it without big time help in hip-hop.

Country is developing on Spotify. If you don’t see your music fitting in on the Hot Country playlist, you don’t need a major, you need a community, see above.

But all acts should check out the genre specific playlists on Spotify. Under the Browse tab. If you don’t see your music fitting in with the tracks on the most popular playlist…it’s going to be a long hard slog. Don’t expect to make much money on your recordings, because Spotify pays when people stream, i.e. actually listen. So either accept your fate, or try to make music that fits the format. Which sounds like selling out, and usually it is, but sometimes you can make music that’s so transcendent it redefines the genre. You take the building blocks and then jump off from there. Very few acts can do this, but those that do become superstars. It’s why Yes can still tour and Freddie Mercury and Queen are such icons, and why so much of the music of the past twenty five years has been forgotten, it’s me-too.

3. Making money.

If your music fits the Spotify hit charts, voila, it’s very simple, you’re on the road to riches, assuming you make hit music. All the naysayers, they’ve got a low stream count. Sure, major label deals need to be improved, but Spotify pays out beaucoup bucks if you’ve got a hit. Anything under 10 million is bupkes, forget about making money. But if in the aggregate your music gets nine digits of streams…you’re making bank.

If you’re not making Spotify-specific music, then welcome to the road. You’ve got to slug it out, from gig to gig, increasing your audience. Your performance skills are more important than your music, and your agent is the king of your world. Where can you play, who can you open for? You’re starting at ground zero and trying to climb the ladder, it’s a long hard slog, but your fans can keep you alive, assuming you do the work. And so few do, want to do the work, that is. Everybody expects instant glory, the moon shot. And you can get a facsimile of that with the major label, but don’t expect them to act instantaneously. With so much cash on the line, the majors want a guarantee, which is why they’ll have you work with Max Martin or a cowriter. They can’t take a risk, they only get a few shots, and they’re all so EXPENSIVE! But with the major you can be famous soon, if not rich. But if you’re not on a major…you may never be famous, you may never be rich. Most of your contemporaries will drop out, reducing your competition, but you’re gonna fight to get to the middle, to be a working musician.

4. Albums

Can you write a hit?

Then you don’t need an album, otherwise you do.

If you’re not playing the Spotify game, make an album, you want something your fans can sink their teeth into. But if you’re going for hits, forget the album, it’s a dead construct, the audience has rejected it, the industry doesn’t know it yet, and too many vocal yellers are muddying up the marketplace. The truth is the audience on Spotify listens primarily to playlists, not of their own device, assembled of many tunes. Your goal is to get on these playlists. There are exceptions, like the Weeknd, who can get most of his album heard, but most other acts cannot. Focus on the hit single. Again and again and again. No one is interested in your album cuts until you’ve become a star. And even then, most people only stream the hits. The album is an archaic construct. And a hundred million streams of one track pays better than one million of ten.

5. Frequency

Faster. Focus on writing and recording as opposed to touring if you’re playing the Spotify game. There’s plenty of time to tour to acolytes. Lady Gaga hasn’t had a hit in years and she still sells tickets. The old album cycle is history. And failure is not the black mark it used to be. Little Big Town put out an experimental EP that went straight to the dumper in the late spring, but they’ve got a new hit single today.

6. Sponsorships

Do it for the money, not the exposure. And the dirty little secret is the public cares.

Listen to Evan Spiegel, majordomo of Snapchat, the hottest social network:

“Snap’s Spiegel told advertisers last year that an emotional line exists between their companies and people. Blurring that line leads to content people find weird. So brands, he said, shouldn’t try to humanize themselves on social media – which is what they get from tapping influencers. Instead, Snap offers video, banner and animation ads that stick out from normal content.”

Instagram and YouTube play nice with their most popular users. Why doesn’t Snapchat?

Acts come and go, managers, agents and labels are forever. So when your handlers tell you to take the money…beware, ponder the negative effect on your career.

7. Fan focus

Is not saying how much you love your fans. It is giving them extras, but primarily it’s about giving them something to believe in, which is your music.

The music is the hardest part, which is why everybody focuses on everything else, it’s much easier.

Your job is to touch people’s souls, whether you make Spotify Top 50 music or small genre music. Bare your soul, innovate and people will be bonded to you.

But it’s so difficult to do.

Not everybody can make it in music, not even the talented. Under the best of circumstances there are dead ends and dashed hopes. The goal is to stay in the game long enough to succeed. You put in your hours, you get better, you step up to bat and you make your own luck.

The business wants you to make it, everybody’s rooting for you, except maybe your compatriot musicians, because when you succeed, everybody in the food chain makes money, the label, Spotify, your publisher, the promoter, the building, and, of course, the manager, agent and you. No one is holding you back but yourself. Are you ready to run the gauntlet? Then we want you!

Assuming you obey the above precepts and tickle our fancy.

Which is more difficult than ever to do.

Lenny Dykstra On Howard Stern

She was GAS.

If you think sex should be performed under the covers, in the dark, this is not for you.

If you think oral is offensive, this is not for you.

If you think old, faded baseball players who have been to jail are not worth listening to, this is not for you.

But if you want to hear Lenny Dykstra prove he’s the best pussy-eater in the world…YOU’RE IN THE RIGHT PLACE!

I didn’t care a whit about Dykstra. In the same way I don’t care about any athlete. The truth is they’re jocks, they may play well-rounded people on television, but the reality is they’re members of a subculture wherein physicality is everything and you’re constantly jockeying for position. If you haven’t been put down by an athlete, you’ve never spent time in the locker room.

But I did follow Nails’ career. That’s what they called him, because he was just that tough. Back when players had nicknames. Where are the Yogis, Mooses and Catfishes of today?

Nonexistent. Because the players want respect. Andy is now Andrew. Bob is now Robert. How do you know you’re talking to a baby boomer? He’s got a Y at the end of his name!

Anyway, Nails had to retire, his body gave out. He was doctor-shopping, looking for someone to give him a pass, but my orthopedic surgeon said no, Lenny had stenosis, he had to go.

Which he did, he retired and became a financial expert.

I know, I know, LENNY DYKSTRA?

But he had a private jet and they talked about him on CNBC and I don’t know, my father didn’t play the stock market, he believed in real estate, he worked too hard for his money, he was risk averse, and so am I.

But Lenny loves risk. It took him all the way to the bottom, to prison, where he lost all his teeth. And now he talks in this mealy-mouthed fashion in soft tones, he doesn’t come across as a braggart, but his stories are INSANE!

That’s what wannabes don’t understand. They keep imitating those who’ve made it, when the truth is we’re looking for originals. People so whacked and different that we can’t help but pay attention. Train wrecks like Lenny Dykstra.

So, promoting his book on Stern, back in the spring, Lenny told of his sexual exploits. And the truth about Lenny is no one believes him, they think he’s telling tall tales.

So the Stern team decided to put him to the test. They wanted names. And Lenny provided them. That’s right, Howard Stern had on two women who’d been eaten out by Lenny Dykstra.

I told you it was gonna get gross.

Assuming you’re squeamish with sex. Personally, I love to give oral. It’s a gift. The woman is appreciative. And when she comes!! She’s in her own private reverie, it’s astounding to watch. Like Lenny, I’d rather give than receive. Then again, this is not about my own apprehension with getting head. I guess…I feel I’m not worthy, and few know how to do it right. Then again, there was that time Alison blew me on the office floor…

So first Lenny catches Howard up on what has transpired since the publication of his book. Davey Johnson is friendly, they hung at a card show, despite Dykstra calling him a drunk. As for Mickey Rourke, Lenny wants a cage match, a fight to the death, Rourke owes him 30 grand and threatened him on TMZ but Dykstra doesn’t back down, he’s a man’s man, with a sense of theatre, hell, do it pay-per-view, it’ll get him out of his financial hole.

But that’s Lenny, if you cross him, it’s open season. He didn’t mind sharing his blow with DeNiro, but when Bobby ignored him…the tale had to be told.

And the tale today was about eating pussy.

Lenny hired a lesbian so he wouldn’t be tempted. She accompanied him on his book tour, but he couldn’t resist, he ate her out, repeatedly.

And then there was the comedian… The one who was “gas.”

That’s another thing about Lenny, he’s got that jock language, where they have code for everything. It’s fascinating to listen to, because you get the gist but you’ve never heard the words before, kinda like that movie “Heathers,” where they made up all the slang. “Gas” means “hot.”

He took her back to his bungalow…

And made her take a shower.

You see Lenny’s a clean freak.

Everybody’s got their neuroses. But nobody reveals them. Which is what makes Lenny so fascinating. He’s worried about coming. He can’t be in a bathroom at the same time as a woman. Under the skin everybody’s a freak, but you don’t know that until you’re intimate with them. Have you ever gotten a woman to fart in public? Good luck! You’ve got to be in a relationship for that.

So then Lenny starts talking about perfect pussy. How it can’t be “zyzyggy.” If it’s zyzyggy, you can’t shave. As for shaving, I don’t get it whatsoever, that’s part of the thrill for me, the hair. It’s like boobs without nipples, huh? But Lenny’s talking about a 90 degree pussy and I’m straining to visualize this and then Robin interrupts, he means 180 DEGREES! A straight slit! But rather than doubling-down on his mistake, Lenny admits fault, says he was never good at math, and that’s what makes him so lovable. Reveal your flaws, then you’ll be embraced.

And it takes the woman a long time to come, No one ever owns up to this. But Lenny doesn’t get tired. Does he use his fingers? Of course not, that spoils it! Does he ever penetrate?

Yes, but only missionary, he doesn’t do doggy. I mean come on, who can’t love a guy who’s boasting about sex and then says he doesn’t do everything! Like two women at once, it’s a no-go, he can’t focus.

Also, he needs the twenty minutes for the kangaroo to kick in. “Kangaroo”??? What’s that? It’s his personal Viagra, an off-brand item, but when he peeled and revealed, SHE LAUGHED!

“Peeled and revealed,” how does he come up with this stuff? Lenny’s full of catch phrases, and unlike a comedian it doesn’t seem rehearsed. You’re getting a window into a new world, that you can’t stop paying attention to!

You see Lenny Dykstra is good entertainment. Proving, once again, that being yourself is the best road to riches. Hell, in his book Lenny doesn’t say to be like him, unlike Megyn Kelly, writing her tome to inspire others. Hogwash. First and foremost you’re an entertainer. And if you say you’d rather spend time with Megyn as opposed to Lenny…you think you can get into Megyn’s pants, and I doubt that.

So last year at this time, the Stern Show was all about stunting, an endless procession of household names hyping their work. Gets kind of repetitive, not because the star stories are uninteresting, but because their products are. They come and go instantly. But this holiday season, Howard has returned to the hijinks. He may not have strippers on Sybians, but there’s the curious underbelly of life, revealed for all to see.

We all have sex. We all have our preferences, our quirks.

But we never ever talk about it. Not unless we’re bragging. Demonstrate insecurity and you’re punted to the back.

But listening to Lenny Dykstra on Stern was strangely riveting, entering an alternative universe that in some ways was just like your own. That’s the goal of art, to express humanity, to get us to identify. Which is why music and movies are in the dumper, they’re fantasies we can’t relate to.

But human beings, warts and all?

Sign us up for that!

“Lenny Dykstra’s Bedroom Talents Confirmed By Two Women Who Found Out Firsthand Just How Good He Is: Jessica And Jasmine Give Howard All The Details On What Makes Lenny Such A Skillful Lover”

Fox Innovation Lab

I drove the Mars rover!

Used to be you wanted to be on the lot. Back when movies drove the culture and Hollywood was still dreamland, back before the means of production were at our fingertips and Silicon Valley pushed the envelope and usurped L.A.’s power.

Kind of sad if you think about it. All the religious shrines have been devalued or disappeared, remember when the record store was iconic and you couldn’t even get a job there? It just wasn’t a retail location, it was the epicenter of a movement, ground zero for soul sustenance.

Which is all a long explanation to say that my heart did not go pitter-patter as I drove onto the Fox lot today. Movies are a sideshow, dumbed-down to play all over the world.

But when I got out of the structure and set foot on the campus…

I felt it.

Access is everything these days. You’ve either got it or want it. We all want to get somewhere we can’t. Like backstage. And no amount of money will get you on the Fox lot, but if your name is on the list…

Do you get anxious, wondering if your name will be there?

I do. I feel an impostor, like I’m pulling one over on somebody. And at first I thought the clerk couldn’t find my name, but in truth he was executing security protocols. He not only wanted my name, but the building I was going to and my ID. Because nowhere is safe anymore, or at least we don’t think so. That’s what’s changed. You can view the world from your couch, but if you actually want to get up and go you’re going to pass through many checkpoints. There are cameras everywhere, but still…bad actors abound.

Now I didn’t want to ask for directions. I’m fearful of appearing a newbie, and I don’t want to give the cops any reason to exclude me, to hold me back.

But I found Building 58 right away, it was right next to the parking structure.

And after taking a pee in the women’s room, don’t worry, it was single user and I had to go, I wandered through the building looking for Room 128. Act like you belong, even if you don’t, it goes a long way.

I was early.

L.A.’s weird, everybody’s late. But then you are and you feel awful.

But the rest of my group showed up soon.

There was the head of post production.

That’s a big job folks, one of the biggest. And I always wonder how someone gets from there to here. They make it sound easy, but it never is, even if you’re connected, and Ted Gagliano was not. He started off working for Frank Mancuso, was at Paramount for a long while, and…

The more this dude is talking the more I realize he’s a huge deal, and is the President of Post Production really taking time out of his day to talk to me?

Do we cut to the chase or can I investigate?

Ted went to Princeton. Not that you’d know it by looking at him, he was wearing his jeans. The biggest jobs are done by those who don’t advertise via their exterior. Rock was biggest when the players wore their street clothes. I’ll argue music went downhill when Tommy Mottola and the Sony brass started wearing suits. Give Lucian Grainge credit, he rarely shows up in one.

So the Innovation Lab is preparing Fox for the future. It’s coming, you know that, right? Everything changes, you do your best to survive.

Or you don’t and get plowed under, like all the musicians wondering who moved their cheese.

So then Ted Schilowitz showed up. He’s the hands-on guy.

And Ted S. is telling me how kids are hamstrung by society and can’t wait to get home, shut the door and make decisions, interact online and with video games. Whereas oldsters are overburdened with life and by time they get home they just want to relax, sit in front of the screen and shut down.

But screens it is.

Ted S. said we’re in front of one all day long. And that’s true. We wake up and look at our smartphone, we go to work and sit in front of a monitor, we come home and sit in front of the TV. What’s on these screens is important!

And both Teds agreed we wanted to interact.

Now virtual reality has gotten a bad rap. Kinda like 3-D TV, the techies keep raving about it and the public can’t see the fruits.

And the messaging is all screwed up. All this hogwash about VR and live entertainment. Er, no. You go to live entertainment to interact with the crowd, to feel it, seeing is only a small component.

And then you have the geeks with their gaming.

The problem with gaming is…

It’s trickery. There are no instructions and tons of dead ends and the frustration factor is through the roof! So many people check out.

But the truth is, VR is about the EXPERIENCE!

It’s not about the window to the world, but INHABITING that world.

And the techies just cannot convey this.

But when I was on Mars today…

Fox spent millions to repurpose the film “The Martian” as a VR experience.

But first I put on the Oculus Rift headset, the one with all the buzz, the one that got a boost from Kickstarter and was ultimately bought by Facebook. Fox tried to buy it, but the company was too late. If you want to surf the crest of the future, you’ve got to COMMIT!

And the truth is some of the effects I saw were cool, especially standing on the parapet of a New York building and watching the New Year’s Eve ball come down, but I was constantly afraid of FALLING DOWN! I’d just seen the doctor this morning, I didn’t want to mess up my arm. They kept imploring me to turn, but I wasn’t gonna. Especially after they told me people had fallen already.

But then I strapped on the HTC headset, with hand controllers, and jetted off to Mars.

It felt different, it felt like Mars. Lonely and red, dusty…

But then I had to take control, I had to throw switches, open doors, I was INVOLVED!

But the coolest part was getting behind the wheel of the rover. I intentionally drove it into the rocks. My seat shaked. The game was smart.

I could have driven that rover all afternoon, feeling the bumps, scanning the landscape. It was kind of like skiing, it took all my energy and concentration, I felt removed from the real world, and that’s a thrill.

And you can buy the Mars excursion right now. But there are even better things coming. Narratives, but with more options.

The truth is we love narrative, we’re addicted to stories. As for short attention spans, if that’s the case, if kids can’t concentrate, then why are they doing marathons on Netflix?

We’re gonna have so much time on our hands. Machines are gonna do the work, we’re not even gonna DRIVE!

So what fills the hole?

Entertainment!

Video games already outstrip movies in revenue. There’s something on the horizon, more immersive. The price of the hardware has to come down, and it will, as it simultaneously gets better, but it’s about a breakout hit, software.

Don’t depend on the techies. These were the same people who told us to buy computers to store our recipes. Huh? The breakthrough app was AOL, interactivity, we wanted to connect. And I’m sure there will be a VR environment like “World of Warcraft” coming.

“Myst” broke open computer gaming. We just need the app everyone’s got to own.

Few owned computers, even fewer had modems, then AOL drove everybody to the store, they wanted to play.

People are thinking about the future. It’s not quite here, and it won’t be what people say it will be, but we’re on the hunt for titillation, and we go where we find it.

And the stunning thing was the two Teds were consumed by this. Conversation in music is rarely about that, it’s all about the business, the money, the penumbra. But in Room 128 today we were freestyling about story, about technology, this is what you come to Hollywood for, to escape the grind of the bank, to avoid a life of drudgery.

So maybe the dream factory is ready for a rebirth. A true hyperspace that is not dependent upon “Star Wars” remakes.

One thing’s for sure, I’M SITTING DOWN FOR IT!

World Domination

It’s over.

The media can’t get over the fact that no one is paying attention to it. That the “New York Times” is an echo chamber, Fox News too. These baby boomers and Gen-X’ers are functioning in a different era, when one could reach everybody.

You can’t reach everybody anymore.

The Police started this paradigm in music. Stewart Copeland’s dad was a spook who’d been stationed in out of the way places and Stewart and his brother, the band’s manager Ian, decided to take the act to the hinterlands, after all, people are people, you can make fans everywhere.

And this is how the music business has operated ever since. You cut an album every three, four or five years and then go knocking on doors all over the world, trying to drum up interest and convert people. But if you’re doing that today the joke is on you, the cycle moves too fast, new product comes every hour, never mind every day, and if you’re not busy creating you’re being left behind.

But that’s just to stay in the game.

Winning the game?

Lower your expectations.

In a world where even the NFL’s ratings are taking a hit, where vaunted TV shows don’t crack double digit millions in viewers, the truth is attention is scattered and you just can’t gain it.

Now you can rebel against this, to no effect. This is what the oldster musicians have been doing for a decade and a half. Their main message is who let the dogs out? Not only the public expecting all the music for one low price, if not free, but the other acts they’re now competing against. With the barrier to entry essentially nonexistent, new acts are climbing the wall and invading. And the same thing is happening in news. Everybody’s a reporter. And the old guard just can’t understand why consumers don’t drop all the newbies and pay attention to THEM!

Hmm…

How does it all work out?

I DON’T KNOW!

But the biggest act of the year was the election. The debates garnered audiences unheard of previously, the numbers were especially staggering seeing how bad most entertainment products do these days. Let that be a lesson to you, when it’s about life and death, about your future, people care. And fakery’s got no place in the game. If you’re DOING it for ratings, if you’re DOING it for the money, you’ve missed the plot. That was one of the Donald’s hooks, he was funding his campaign HIMSELF!

This is important. Because as Bob Dylan said, to live outside the law you have to be honest.

Which is why the techies triumphed. Their products were based on 0’s and 1’s. There was little human emotion involved. And they created items that everybody needed. Which is why techies became the new rock stars. Everybody had a Facebook page, everybody had an opinion on the service. And now there’s Snapchat and…

The truth is this tech thing is long in the tooth. It’s hair bands about to be replaced by hip-hop and grunge. But the lesson still stands, in order to dominate today you’ve got to deliver what people NEED! And just telling them they’ll need it won’t get you there. It’s about virality, word of mouth, heat.

And the product must be palatable to most.

Which is why Adele’s “21” was such a hit. Everyone’s got a soft spot for artistry. We like good voices, hooks, melodies. “21” outsold everything else by a huge multiple. Then she and her team shot themselves in the foot by refusing to put “25” on streaming services and making an album that just wasn’t good enough.

You want your stuff to be everywhere. The techies wrote this rule. Acceptance is key, monetization comes thereafter. But the entertainment business is a greedy, street one, it focuses on money first and leaves too much cash on the table.

But the truth is we’re only interested in great. It’s a world of 9’s and 10’s only. Sure, you might be able to gain an audience for a 7 or 8, but you can’t grow it significantly, because people are overwhelmed, they don’t have time for mediocre.

So you’ve got to lower your sights. Most people and their endeavors will not reach critical mass. And a few will triumph, but then comes the question, WHAT WILL THE REST DO?

Driverless vehicles are going to decimate the ranks of professional drivers overnight, millions of truck drivers are going to lose their jobs, and they’re never coming back.

And the internet has made it so only a few musicians are wealthy.

And only a few news outlets are profitable.

So if you’re in it for the long haul, climb to quality.

But know that it’s almost impossible to reach critical mass.

Everybody likes something different, everybody’s got a different opinion.

Fake news didn’t get Donald Trump elected, angry, disenfranchised voters did. And it’s hard for the media to accept this, believing it is an all powerful ruler. Just like the music business believed it could corral consumers into buying overpriced CDs.

Most people don’t know Taylor Swift’s music.

Most people have never heard of Drake.

Most people don’t read the “New York Times.”

AND MOST PEOPLE DON’T CARE!