One thing I love about Irving Azoff, he’ll talk shit about his acts…and himself.

I remember during one of his low periods, when Giant/Revolution/Giant was hitless. Irving was assessing his empire and he said “I’ve got a record company worth…something.” Ha! If you can’t laugh at yourself I’ve got very little time for you. Like the powerful agent who e-mailed me this week to tell me I just wasn’t positive enough about his mainstream act which nets him millions in commissions. To be truthful, what I wrote was about as positive as I get. But not enough for this gentleman. I didn’t mention every hit this act ever had. It took everything in my power not to send a caustic message back, asking ARE YOU KIDDING? DO YOU KNOW ME? DID YOU REALLY SEND ME THAT E-MAIL?

Or the conversation with the big shot promoter. I thought we were friends. And friendship is based on honesty and truthfulness. But then I realized he couldn’t say a negative thing about that disappointing festival bill, or his charges… Talking to him was like reading a press release. From a concert company in Lake Wobegon, where every kid is above average, and every show sells out and makes a profit.

Is it me? Am I just old and jaded? Or is something changing and the hard sell, all positive style is yielding fewer dividends?

Kind of like mainstream hype. Why am I interested in newspaper preview issues. I’ll wait for the real thing, then make my judgment. And then there are all the turning point announcements. Apple’s earnings. Launch of the BlackBerry 10. Amazon’s numbers. The buildup is incredible. And when they’re done we’ve got nothing but emptiness. Unlike a great record, these moments don’t last, there’s no repeatability.

So it all comes down to relationships. Do you have a relationship with those you’re selling to? That’s what Amanda Palmer does best.

Hey, want to hear an Amanda Palmer story? She wrote on her blog that I wrote about her and I’m being inundated with newsletter signups. Now she didn’t tell people they had to sign up, she didn’t hold a gun to their head, she just has an ongoing relationship of trust, if she’s into something, so are her fans. Kind of like Howard Stern. I get e-mail every day from people who say they heard about me on Stern. Howard’s focused purely on his show. He won’t do merch. He’s the opposite of every moneygrubbing musician. Granted, he makes millions, but not always.

Palmer and Stern have been doing it for years. And they’re not only imploring you to buy stuff to make them rich. They’re not only telling you they’re winners. Unlike the teflon agent and promoter above, they specialize in expressing their foibles. Stern’s a walking bag of neuroses. That’s why his audience can relate to him. When I hear this agent and promoter pontificate, my eyes roll into the back of my head.

That’s what’s wrong with America. The tsunami of selling.

No one leads with their wares, just their mouth.

They believe they deserve your attention and your money.

I’m not playing.

P.S. You’ve got to hear this interview wherein this BlackBerry exec will not admit the iPhone exists. Talk about living in an alternative universe.

“How not to do PR, 101: BlackBerry exec absolutely refuses to acknowledge iPhone’s existence”

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