Then/Now-Media Edition

THEN

MTV was our national jukebox.

NOW

There is no national jukebox. There is no universality. Want everyone to know your name? Then KILL someone. Making music doesn’t lead to ubiquity.

THEN

Being on the cover of “Rolling Stone” meant you made it.

NOW

Being on the cover of “Rolling Stone” means you’ve already made it and the magazine is kissing your butt, your PR person negotiated interview parameters, all so they could sell more copies on the newsstand.

THEN

TV shows were on network and they were either hits immediately or canceled.

NOW

The best TV shows are on cable, and most take years to gain traction, as a result, there’s little backlash. People don’t complain about “Walking Dead,” “Breaking Bad” or “Sons Of Anarchy,” because they’ve earned their keep. Try to jam Lena Dunham down our throats and there’s backlash. And backlash draws attention now, but burns your career our faster. Wanna last? Start slow.

THEN

Albums sold double digit millions.

NOW

You’re lucky to sell one million. Except for Adele. Then again, isn’t it interesting that she can sing and write. What a concept, TALENT!

THEN

CNN was on 24/7 and featured news.

NOW

There’s little news on CNN and if you want to know what’s happening, you go to the web. Hell, CNN’s site is better than the channel!

THEN

You couldn’t sell a record unless you had major distribution.

NOW

Anybody can sell a record. Don’t be sour grapes. If you haven’t made it, it’s your fault, the barriers to entry are incredibly low.

THEN

The charts meant everything.

NOW

Charts are meaningless. Then again, youngsters don’t care about who’s winning, only who THEY’RE interested in.

THEN

David Bowie comes back and he’s not only in the press, he’s all over MTV and the radio and he has a hit with “Let’s Dance.”

NOW

David Bowie comes back and he’s not on the radio and there’s no music on MTV and he doesn’t have a hit.

THEN

Rap was a view from the street.

NOW

Rap is a view from 36,000 feet, outside the window of a private jet.

THEN

Honesty was in rock.

NOW

Honesty is in country.

THEN

Musicians were leaders.

NOW

Musicians are followers.

THEN

You discovered new acts when they opened for your favorites.

NOW

You discover new acts at festivals, you don’t even bother to get there in time to hear the opening act at a regular show.

THEN

TV networks had 90+% of the audience.

NOW

TV networks have less than 30% of the audience.

THEN

Only insiders knew who ran record companies.

NOW

The execs are more famous than the acts.

THEN

The key to success was a good manager.

NOW

The key to success is a good manager.

THEN

It was all about the album.

NOW

It’s all about the single.

THEN

The radio was the tribal drum.

NOW

The mobile phone is the tribal drum.

THEN

You could see upcoming bands in clubs.

NOW

Challenged record companies have stopped supporting clubs so it’s difficult to see new acts at a fair price in an intimate setting. Oh, you can go see crap acts at a cheap price in an intimate setting, but who has that much time to waste?

THEN

Radio was the filter.

NOW

There is no filter.

THEN

Jimmy Iovine was all about the music.

NOW

Jimmy Iovine is all about the money.

THEN

You salivated over magazines and fanzines, which there were not enough of.

NOW

You rely on websites, of which there are far too many, almost none of them of high quality.

THEN

Record reviews mattered.

NOW

Record reviews are irrelevant.

THEN

You were thrilled to be inside the building.

NOW

You can’t stop bitching about security, the seats, and the lines at the poor, overpriced concessions.

THEN

You came home from the gig and told everybody about it the next day at school.

NOW

You’re at the gig and you tell everybody about it from your phone.

THEN

You didn’t think your opinion was universal and deserved to spread.

NOW

You’re pissed if you don’t have millions of followers.

THEN

It was clear who had talent.

NOW

Everybody thinks they have talent.

THEN

Stars were in bed with their fans.

NOW

Stars are angry with their fans, pissed that they’re stealing their music and won’t buy their crappy albums.

THEN

Music was expensive and everybody had little of it.

NOW

Music is cheap and everybody has more than they want.

THEN

People wanted your free music.

NOW

People don’t want your free music, hell, they’ve got the music of superstars free on their computer!

THEN

Facebook was cool.

NOW

Facebook isn’t cool. If bands can fade, why can’t websites?

THEN

You spent hours downloading music from P2P services.

NOW

You just watch what you want on YouTube. Just like the deficit, piracy in music is a red herring. It’s just too much effort. The reason you can’t sell your music in prodigious amounts is it’s just not good enough, not enough people care. When we had limited options and unlimited time we were interested in your substandard work, now with unlimited options and little time we are only interested in the very best.

THEN

The A&R man said he couldn’t hear a single.

NOW

There is no A&R man, none with any signing power.

THEN

The record company was the bank.

NOW

The concert promoter is the bank.

THEN

Videos were expensive and mattered.

NOW

Videos are cheap and matter.

THEN

You had to wait hours for your favorite video to come up on MTV.

NOW

You dial up your favorites on YouTube and listen to them whenever you want, as many times as you want…but you must still endure the commercials.

THEN

You didn’t have time for TV because you were listening to music.

NOW

You don’t have time for music because you’re watching TV.

THEN

Movie stars wouldn’t appear in TV series.

NOW

Movie stars are eager to appear in TV series.

THEN

Record companies were cool.

NOW

HBO and Showtime are cool.

THEN

Documentaries were rare, you went to the theatre to see them.

NOW

Everybody’s got a documentary and you can watch them all online but you don’t want to, because you haven’t got enough time.

THEN

The man wasn’t to be trusted.

NOW

Where do I sell out?

2 Responses to Then/Now-Media Edition


Comments


Trackbacks & Pingbacks »»

  1. […] Lefsetz Letter » Blog Archive » Then/Now-Media Edition. […]

Comments are closed