Live At The Fillmore, 1997-SiriusXM This Week

An in-depth exploration of the cover songs on Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers’ new/old live album.

Tune in tomorrow, Saturday December 10th, to Faction Talk, channel 103, at 4 PM East, 1 PM West.

If you miss the episode, you can hear it on demand on the SiriusXM app. Search: Lefsetz

Scott Shannon-This Week’s Podcast

Listen to how legendary deejay and program director Scott Shannon ran away from home, got drafted, and ended up creating the Morning Zoo and building WHTZ into the #1 radio station in New York. Scott is a music lover who is a natural raconteur, you’ll love hearing his story.

https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/scott-shannon/id1316200737?i=1000589392155

https://music.amazon.com/podcasts/9ff4fb19-54d4-41ae-ae7a-8a6f8d3dafa8/episodes/963dc694-f1ca-4e78-ad9d-655f7b01ee48/the-bob-lefsetz-podcast-scott-shannon

https://www.stitcher.com/show/the-bob-lefsetz-podcast/episode/scott-shannon-209583109

John Seabrook’s TikTok Article

“So You Want To Be A TikTok Star: The social-media platform is transforming the music industry. Is that a good thing?”: https://bit.ly/3F7nWv3

And we thought file-trading was gonna kill the record business.

Let’s be clear, the major labels will never die, because of their catalogs, which they wield with an iron fist, you cannot play in the music sphere without licensing their wares. Spotify delayed launching in the U.S. because one major label group wouldn’t make a deal. But things have changed, Bob Dylan is making money from books these days, having sold his songs and recordings (Was that too obscure a reference? That’s Bob’s last transcendent track if you ask me, fits perfectly in “The Wonder Boys”…then again, they don’t make movies like that anymore either.) And the major labels have lost control of new music production. And they’re scared.

Yes, the labels controlled radio, and then radio died. Ask a youngster if they’ve ever even listened to terrestrial radio, odds are never. And everybody talks about the labels’ power at Spotify/streaming outlets, but statistics tell us that despite all the hype about playlists, the ability to get on (and Spotify denies this muscle, saying their playlisters are completely independent, although relationships are relationships), the truth is most people pick and choose what they want to listen to, playlists are for casual listeners and background music. In other words breaking solely from a playlist is very hard, people find out about music elsewhere and then go to the streaming outlet to listen to it.

So how do you make a hit? You can’t! All you can do is leverage what you’ve got, maybe have a newbie featured on a hitmaker’s track, because starting from zero is nearly impossible these days.

Oh, the major labels own print. But the target audience does not read traditional print, whether it be physically or online. Sure, you can break an adult act via a combination of print and NPR, but they tend not to be superstars and the formula doesn’t work that often anyway. As for the vaunted “CBS Sunday Morning,” my sources tell me it no longer has the impact it once did. So how are you going to get the word out? YOU CAN’T!

And then comes TikTok.

Now if you’re in the business, part of the maelstrom, nothing in John Seabrook’s article will be new to you. But TikTok used to be the wild west and the hoi polloi was unaware of its impact. Now TikTok is a juggernaut and if it’s in “The New Yorker”…EVERYBODY KNOWS ABOUT IT!

So why is TikTok so  popular and powerful?

The people, the humanity. Something ABSENT from major label product for decades. There’s no pushing of the envelope at the major labels, they don’t want to reinvent the wheel, they want it the way it used to be, they want it easy, but it’s not.

So people don’t watch TikTok videos for the music, they watch them for the clip, the visuals. And these are not the MTV mega-productions of yore, they’re shot cheaply and if you don’t evidence your true popularity, there is no virality. And virality is the game on TikTok.

But the game is completely different from any we’ve seen before. Even the losers get lucky sometimes, actually more than lucky! Just because you’ve gone viral once, made some headway, that does not mean your subsequent video will automatically be served to zillions via the algorithm. It has to have that je ne sais quoi. Conversely, if you’re no one and your video has that certain special something…TikTok blasts it everywhere.

Think about this. This is great for the public at large, anybody can play. But just because you break on TikTok, that does not mean you will sustain. You could be one and done.

This is what blew up music back in the sixties and seventies, the honesty, the humanity. If you wanted to know what was going on in society you listened to music, it was the hottest medium. Today it’s a joke.

Right now I’m in Aspen at Jim Lewi’s conference. What did we discuss at lunch? POLITICS! And the promoter most into it wasn’t even forty. And he talked with the kind of depth boomers used to have re records, he was anything but surface. Have you tried to read an artist profile recently? Nincompoops on parade. Who cares what they have to say, they’re all brands.

That’s the goal if you’re part of the major label system, the music is just a jumping off point. And I’m not saying there are no brand extensions on TikTok, it’s just that humanity is core to the enterprise.

Now in truth old acts can tour irrelevant of TikTok. And niche acts who tour constantly and are the bedrock of our business don’t need TikTok (and they don’t need major labels either). But if you’re a new, young, developing act… TikTok is radio and MTV all rolled into one, with a twist, and that twist is the creators are in control. TikTok does control the algorithm, but that’s it. TikTok is like all the rest of the social networks, the people are the product. But now the creativity of the people has been set loose, and it’s fascinating to watch. As analyst Rich Greenfield always says, Netflix’s competition isn’t Disney+ or Amazon Prime Video or Hulu or Apple TV+, it’s TikTok. People spend hours a day on TikTok, and it never gets boring, it’s addictive.

So the major labels are trying to get into TikTok. They work with TikTok to spread priorities, but the creators don’t have to use major label product, the creator featured in this article writes her own music.

And then the major label swoops down and signs you.

Well…

If you’re big enough you can write your own deal, get millions and own the recordings and publishing. But what exactly can the major label do for you other than pay you an advance? Get you on the Grammys? Who the hell is watching that? Certainly not your potential audience. Get you in the newspaper? Don’t make me laugh. The truth is creativity lives online and the creators know more about the landscape than the major labels, by far.

And if you sign with the major, you’re giving up your future. Sure, you might get millions today, but tomorrow they’re gonna keep the lion’s share of the money. So, cool if you’re one and done, but if you’re in it for the long haul, why do you need the label? Who first and foremost ARE GOING TO TELL YOU WHAT TO DO! And that’s anathema in today’s fast-paced world. Once the majors know about it, it’s passé.

Don’t talk to me about Lil Nas X. It’s like Radiohead’s “In Rainbows,” it could only be done one time. That was years ago, the landscape has evolved, rapidly.

Furthermore, on TikTok, you don’t even need a complete song! These creators are not worried about masters and publishing, they’re only worried about how they can get more views. They’re not recording artists… Well, they’re so much more than recording artists!

Now if you read Seabrook’s article, you’ll read about Barbara Jones, who spoke at last year’s Aspen conference, who worked at many labels, most recently as head of marketing at Columbia, but that wasn’t so recently. She worked in the mommy blogger world, and then pivoted to representing TikTok artists. Truth is major labels are a joke, they’ve fired everybody with experience, or squeezed them out, so now you’ve only got self-satisfied poohbahs at the top and poorly paid worker bees at the bottom. It’s kind of like what I said about CPAs… If you’re working at the label you’re not that sharp, or afraid of working for yourself. Because the world moves much faster than the major labels. There are tons of opportunities. But you have to see into the future and create them. The old paradigm is dead. Not only for breaking artists but moving up the food chain at a label. The label world has shrunk, there’s no longer the constant movement of executives like there used to be and the truth is established companies are really piss-poor at owning the future. MTV couldn’t capitalize on the internet. Tower Records went bankrupt. Jimmy and Doug tried to own streaming, but it was a nobody from Sweden who got it right and became a billionaire.

There’s something after TikTok, and I can’t tell you what it is.

But the essence of TikTok will be a core element of what comes next. Yes, the tapping of the individual creativity of the unfettered individual. This is where TikTok is like the sixties. There’s no formula, let your freak flag fly, we’re open to all comers. And what looks like a dud to the usual suspects can blow up prodigiously.

This reminds me of Napster. In that the reason the major labels were so far behind the curve is because nobody working at them used the service. Once you did you got it, and you were never going back to the old ways. And let’s be clear, Spotify proved that people were willing to pay, it’s just that the labels wouldn’t authorize anything comporting with the public’s desire for ten years. Don’t talk to me about the iTunes Store. It was just a replication of physical online. Not like Spotify, where you pick and choose what you want and eat it all for one low payment a month.

You’ve got to be on TikTok. If you’re in the music business, or you’re making music, your opinion is worthless unless you dive in and spend hours on the service, so you understand it, so it’s second nature, so you feel it.

And unlike so much in tech, the learning curve on TikTok is almost nonexistent.

And just like in the modern world you’re on your own trip, you control the ride, nobody else has the same feed, is watching the same videos, because in truth all our interests are different.

And unlike Spotify’s algorithmic products, TikTok serves up stuff you want to listen to. Spotify is far ahead of its competitors, but I rarely listen to Discover Weekly because I don’t want to spend all that time just to find one good track. Whereas on TikTok…use it for less than half an hour and it’s ringing your bell every time.

Yes, technology is serving us, helping us.

And it’s pushing us farther apart as it brings us together.

The old paradigm of record companies was mass. We’ve already seen that mass has declined. Quick, sing the new Taylor Swift hit! I doubt you can. Or Drake or… Never has hit music had less of a reach.

This is the opposite of everything the major labels’ business model is based on.

Netflix dealt with this by releasing a plethora of product. Knowing that few things are going to appeal to the mass, and you’ve got to satiate the niches in order to have a sustainable business, where people renew their subscriptions every month.

Meanwhile, the major labels’ have shrunk the amount of product they release. And that which they do put out is massaged ad infinitum to have the most chance in the marketplace. In truth, it’s about more reaching fewer people. But in the aggregate…

That’s what streaming is about, in both music and television, the AGGREGATE! We no longer live in a controlled environment. Everybody’s on their own trip. The good thing is they want to consume.

But they do not want to consume in the way the major labels want them to. They don’t want to create that way or pay that way or…

More to come.

Stutz

https://www.netflix.com/title/81387962

Come for the personal information.

Take the therapy insights with a grain of salt.

I can’t really tell you whether you’ll be intrigued or bored by “Stutz” because it’s very hard for me to watch TV alone these days. Unless Felice is glued to the screen too, I keep checking how many minutes are left, wondering if I could make better use of my time. It’s not that I need to check my e-mail or social media feeds, it’s just that when I watch TV alone I start to squirm, I find it hard to sit still, it takes all my power not to shut off the presentation. Now there are exceptions, but they are rare. These are riveting streaming programs, but if they’re that riveting Felice wants to watch them too. However, she does have a limit when it comes to violence, so I’m on my own when it comes to those shows. I did watch all three seasons of “Suburra,” but I have not been able to bring myself to watch the original movie upon which the series is based. And the reason I watched “Suburra” was because “Gomorrah” was temporarily unavailable. Yes, the Italian Mafia series that had real life consequences was owned by the Weinstein Company, but when that imploded it took a long time for the series to reappear, on HBO, and people rave about it, and I want to see it, but it’s just too violent for Felice. I did watch one episode, but I haven’t gone beyond that. And I was doing a podcast with W. David Marx, all about his book on status, and he started talking about this experience, how others had it too, how they couldn’t finish movies, and then I did not feel so alone. And one thing is for sure, we want to feel connected in today’s world, and I’m not talking the internet pipes, I’m talking the people who use those pipes.  Bottom line… I started “Stutz” a few times and ultimately finished it last night, but I won’t say it was easy. How much of that is me as opposed to the film? A lot.

Anyway…

The subject interested me. What we’ve got here is Jonah Hill making a film about his therapist. Hill wants the public at large to be exposed to Phil Stutz’s tools.

Therapy, there are no shortcuts. I wish there were. But you’ve got to put in the time to get results. I tried the other way, it does not work. Cognitive behavioral therapy will get you over the hump, it will allow you to cope, but it does not address the underlying issues. However, behavioral therapy is the only thing that works for OCD, you can do conventional talk therapy ’till the end of your life, it will have no impact, if you’ve got OCD, seek out a behavioral therapist who specializes in treating this condition.

And in truth, I was anxious about watching “Stutz,” because I went through a really bad thing in the nineties. And having read no self-help books previously, I started to devour them. It didn’t help much. And ultimately I was told by a shrink to put my faith in a single psychiatrist and to stop reading, paying attention to self-help and other therapies.

That’s mainly why I was trepidatious about watching “Stutz.” You see I’m easily influenced. There are those who are confident, who can brush off insight and criticism. I am the opposite. I always see my own flaws and am open to ways to fix them. However, forgetting the charlatans, self-help books are not individualized, what works for others may not work for you, probably won’t. So you need one on one live therapy and I must tell you, you get what you pay for. And it’s expensive.

Anyway, Jonah Hill was depressed…

This is what makes “Stutz” interesting. Jonah had all this success, but he was still depressed, he couldn’t figure out why. No therapist could help him break out of this depressive cycle until he met Phil Stutz.

Now whatever works, I endorse. As long as it’s not looney-tunes, as long as the therapist does not become a guru who changes your basic behavior.

And what helped Jonah was…

Stutz says he wants to give everybody hope at their first session. So he talks about life force. Do you know your purpose in life? Or maybe you did and now you don’t. And you’re ready to work 24/7, but you’re wary of spinning your wheels, and you’re depressed. Stutz has a pyramid to address this, which he reveals immediately, both in treatment and the movie. First, at the bottom, you must exercise. This is absolutely true, it completely changes your mood. It may take a ton of effort to get off the couch, but you need to. It’s hard to explain, but when you’re done, you’ll be high, feel better for hours, if not more. The second level is all about interacting with people. This is the problem with depressed individuals, they get too isolated, they give up hope. Stutz says to make the effort, not to wait for others to do it, make plans, talk to people…you get a high just from doing this, but also you feel part of humanity, part of the fabric of life. And the third part of the pyramid, the top, has to do with your body and what you eat and… I delineate the three levels of life force treatment because I believe in each and every one. Most definitely the first and second levels, exercise and interaction. If you’re depressed right now and are not in therapy, watch “Stutz” and follow his prescription, it will help.

As for the rest of what “Stutz” has to say…

I won’t say it’s wrong, but it supersedes the underlying issues. Maybe if you’re in therapy with Phil, you get more. But if you’re sitting at home and you just follow his prescriptions… Don’t. I won’t disagree with any of them specifically, I’ll just say the film almost gives a template, which you can follow…off the edge of the earth. All the tools must be employed in the context of your individual life. And…

I don’t believe in therapeutic prescriptions. So what do I mean by that. I mean I don’t believe in therapists telling you what to do. And Jonah addresses this, but… Let me just say I’ve had huge life consequences as a result of listening to what therapists told me to do. Whereas the therapist I’ve been seeing for a long time now will never tell me what to do, unless my life is in danger. I used to call shrinks in crisis, I never call my shrink today, because all he’ll say is…”Sounds like we have a lot to talk about in our next session, see you Tuesday.” And I always cope, but even better, and most importantly, all my decisions are my own. So I can look back at my life and I can never say this shrink told me to do this or that, because he never ever does. And isn’t that the point of therapy, to be able to stand on your own two feet, independently? Not that I believe therapy is a crutch, I believe everybody can benefit. But most people feel going is an expression of being less than, that you should buck up and handle your own problems. Or that your friends can guide you (don’t ever listen to your friends if you’re in a really bad spot). Going to therapy does not mean you’re weak, but that you’re strong! You will learn about yourself and how the world works. And you’ll be able to see your place in the landscape and ultimately behave in a manner that benefits you.

So back to Jonah. It’s a great example of how success does not make you happy. It’s striking. You think if you reach the goal you’ll be happy, but oftentimes this is not the case. Jonah cannot get over the stigma of growing up fat. He’s thin in this movie, but he still sees himself as fat, to this day it’s a burden, a chip on his shoulder. And he’s a public figure and people won’t stop commenting on his appearance, and even when they say he’s thin it doesn’t assuage his anxiety, because the raw subject of his physicality is an ever-present negative element in his consciousness.

But the high point of the movie is when Jonah’s mother comes to therapy. First and foremost, she looks put-together and young, not like the parents of my generation, even though she’s my contemporary. And she’s far from clueless. She’s got self-knowledge and she’s honest and you’ll enjoy what transpires.

But even more you’ll be fascinated by Phil Stutz himself.

Very early in the movie it is revealed he has Parkinson’s.

Okay, but deep in the film they get into it, when Jonah starts asking Phil about his own relationships.

Wow. Turns out Phil’s three year old brother died when he was still in single digits and it affected the family dynamic permanently, and all the hopes and dreams were put on Phil’s shoulders. He was told he needed to be a doctor, that that was the only worthwhile profession. This is Jewish life 101, even though he says his parents were atheists.

But Phil got Parkinson’s at a young age. And he’s never been married and he lives alone.

So what you’ve got here is a therapist who needs a shrink. And they address this, how the shrinks themselves can be just as screwed up as the patients. And contrary to common belief, therapy is not just someone listening to your story and giving advice, there are a set of tools and…yes, many shrinks are screwed up and go to therapy, but see that as a badge of honor, they’re trying to go deeper.

So how does having Parkinson’s at a young age affect your life?

Well, Phil never had children, could he have lifted them, been fully participatory?

As far as being in love… Phil says it happened once. Then he reveals that he’s in a forty year long on and off relationship! And ultimately…

Well, I’ll let you watch the movie.

But this is what makes the movie so intriguing, finding out who Phil Stutz really is.

Also, Phil goes on that he wants to get all his concepts, all his tools, down before he dies. But he also acknowledges that his tools don’t have much traction in the therapeutic community. So what do we have here? The lone pioneer trying to make his life have meaning, to be able to see it as worthwhile, because work is almost the only thing he has?

Wow… Who we are, where we are in the world, legacy…it starts to hit you when you get older. And in truth, if you have children you can see them as your legacy, irrelevant of what you’ve accomplished. But if you’ve put all your effort into work…

Jonah comes off really well. Honest. Not trading on his celebrity, but acknowledging it.

Phil? The more you watch the more you feel sorry for him, wondering if he can ever get out of his own way, how much he’s sacrificed.

The movie is very professionally done. The production values are top-notch. And one can thank Netflix for making it available. A film like “Stutz” would do very little box office, may not have even played on one of the pay channels of yore. And most people are not going to want to watch “Stutz,” but those who do can’t really get this stuff elsewhere. Also, being prominently featured on Netflix’s site, and being continuously available, there can be discussion about the film, virality.

Of course movies, just like albums, even by the biggest artists, can disappear in a day, never to be resuscitated. But “Stutz” has already had an impact on the culture. This is not some superhero flick, you’re never going to forget seeing the film, because it’s visceral, it’s real life.

So should you watch “Stutz”?

Ironically, the people who need to watch it most won’t. Because if you’ve never been to therapy, if you think you’re too healthy for therapy, if you think everything’s copacetic and you’ve got no problems…”Stutz” will open your eyes.

As for those who have gone to a therapist… You’ll definitely be interested, will you be riveted? It’s not that “Stutz” is soft and can be ignored, but does it draw you in enough that you don’t want to shut it off and do something else in this attention-based economy with endless options?

I don’t know. But there’s noise around “Stutz,” and last night I decided to finish it. And this is what I thought.