“Bob Dylan Gives Away 50,000 Copies of His New Album to AARP The Magazine Readers”

If you don’t pay for it, you don’t listen to it.

That’s the difference between yesterday and today. That’s what drove the album era. You laid down your cash and played that LP until you knew it by heart, you had an investment, and your collection was small.

But today the paradigm is completely different. We have access to everything, literally just a touch or click away. How do you convince people to listen?

What we’ve learned is a publicity campaign is not enough. Otherwise Tom Petty and U2’s new music would be ubiquitous.

Now if you’re about selling tickets, and that’s where all the money is today, it doesn’t even matter if people listen to the new music, never mind buy it. The attendant publicity will make people aware, and everybody knows if you have a new record and you’re doing publicity you’re going on the road.

Just don’t ask them to listen to the new music in concert.

Just like no one will want to hear Dylan’s covers of Sinatra at the show. Then again, everybody going to hear Dylan is either a brain dead fan, or afraid he’s gonna die and they won’t have this notch in their belt, they won’t have seen him.

Sorry for speaking the truth, but Bob can croak at best, and he rearranges his hits, go once and you never have to go again.

And there’s no better songwriter in the history of rock and roll.

And I will say this promotion may make me wince, but it’s not that stupid. His audience is retired and they still listen to CDs and this is an easy way to reach them. Furthermore, not being inured to the free music game, they’ll give the CD a spin. But don’t ask them to play it all the way through, that’s torture.

So, what we’ve learned is we’re pushing the envelope of marketing/distribution ideas. Believe me, you won’t be able to give away free CDs soon, Macs don’t even come with disk drives! Just like free downloads disappeared, killed by streams, the Wal-Mart cheap/value CD is gone now too.

But that’s the world we live in, where old rockers find it easier to come up with innovative marketing ideas than compelling music.

How do you get people to check your new music out?

Turns out being established no longer counts. Especially if you’re a boomer act.

Sure, the kids listen to the new stuff, but they rejected Gaga’s latest immediately.

That’s right, you put it out and if we even give it a chance we do it in a day and we give you five seconds, that’s enough.

The bar is so high, most people making music can’t even see it, never mind reach it.

Don’t tell people they’ve got to listen a few times.

Don’t put out any filler.

Go into the Apple Store. How many SKUs do they have? Nearly none. Steve Jobs collapsed the product line and now they sell very few extras. You can’t confuse the audience, you can’t overwhelm people and what you’re purveying must be superlative.

No one goes into the Apple Store and says a MacBook Pro isn’t good enough. They might think it’s overpriced, they might not buy it, but everyone says it’s great.

But Apple’s been at it for a long time, not quite as long as Mr. Zimmerman, but close.

Whereas the youngsters think they’re great right out of the box and the oldsters are resting on their laurels.

Used to be exposure was everything. Get on late night TV. Get a review in the newspaper.

But that’s all history. We have an endless river of hype, which everybody but hard core fans ignores. And if these bands were only interested in hard core fans they’d price the album at $200 and sell it with tchotchkes, fans will buy anything.

But they want more.

This is the story of the teens. How in a world of overwhelming choice, we gravitate to very few winners. Which must reach a standard of excellence and ubiquity.

And the oldsters, actually everybody who’s an artist, doesn’t like this.

If you’re not good enough to start for the Cavaliers, we never want to see you play ball. Oh, you can shoot hoops in your driveway, but just don’t ask us to pay attention.

Sucks, doesn’t it?

Actually it doesn’t.

Everybody’s overwhelmed, nobody has any time.

Only one movie a week makes bank, the rest usually fail.

It’s because we’ve only got so much time and we want to be a member of the group.

Bob Dylan should retire. Should have years ago. Athletes go when they can no longer run, when their skills decline. Bob can barely sing, he’s over seventy, he had a good run.

His dedicated fans will excoriate me for saying this.

But his dedicated fans are the only ones who care.

P.S. Speaking of a brain dead press living in a bygone era, I point you to a brilliant chart in the “Digital Music News,”

“What the Vinyl ‘Comeback’ Really Looks Like”

P.P.S. Re Garth Brooks’s comeback… Got an e-mail about tickets going for $6 at his Boston show tonight. Went on StubHub, tickets are way below face value, as low as $10 on the site:

StubHub – Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood

I’m not saying Boston is Garth’s strongest market, I’m not saying no one wants to see him, but I am saying don’t believe everything you read. The press ranks have been decimated and writers would rather hang with Garth than write anything negative. And despite me putting down the vinyl revolution ad infinitum, every major outlet has done a story about this inane microscopic revival. Proving the purveyors own the press, but the truth is few are paying attention.

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