Fyre Festival-The Netflix Version

Sure, Billy McFarland is a sociopath and a crook.

But everybody working for him wanted to get paid.

And everybody who bought tickets to the festival wanted to live the dream.

This is not a music business story, even though it was first depicted as such.

The movie is about what a bad guy Billy is, and dumps all the blame on him, but what about everybody else who was complicit?

The acts were irrelevant. Sure, there had to be some on the bill. And this proves if you want to book a band, you can, even though newbies might end up paying double, like Fyre.

But what Fyre really was about was an entire generation of entitled people who want to party like rock stars, even though rock stars themselves oftentimes don’t live this life.

As for the models…

You’ll be stunned how young they appear.

In the ads, they’re airbrushed, Photoshopped, but when you see them up close and personal, they’re just tall, skinny youngsters, kinda geeky in fact. Kinda like when I stood next to Linda Evangelista at a Bryan Adams show… She wouldn’t turn your head unless you knew who she was, and she was always my favorite of the supermodels.

You see it’s an illusion. You think if you can just climb the social ladder, be in the room… Yes, “Hamilton” speaks of a room, but where it happens. Nothing happens at a party, other than drinking, drugging and if you’re lucky, sex. Whereas the stars of “Hamilton” were building a country.

Then again, the guy running today’s country is a con man just like Billy McFarland, his acolytes should watch this flick to see how they too are being duped.

But they’ll cry no! Just like the brain-dead who could see things didn’t add up and continued to work for Billy, those overpaying for a first year festival.

It was the advertisement, the social media campaign that got people interested.

When Richard Nixon and Spiro Agnew derided the media, that’s all we had. When Sarah Palin denigrated the mainstream media, it still had the majority of power. But today? Millennials get their news online. And not all of that news is about D.C. It’s a giant community, I tell you, and they want to belong.

This is what baby boomers, Gen-X’ers, don’t get. Used to be you only knew a small group of people, used to be your dreams would not be fulfilled. You didn’t have access. But you can tweet the President these days, rock stars too, and chances are if you’re negative enough, they’ll read it.

Everybody can be a star.

And while the hard-working bitch about their college loans, nitwits who didn’t go to college want to be like Kylie Jenner. And those who did want to keep the opioid-addicted at bay. That’s why they overpay for V.I.P. Otherwise, they’d feel inadequate. Like the influencers pissed they flew coach to the Bahamas.

So you’ve got a population with cash who got it by working very hard or inheriting it and another population who gained fame, and probably not much cash, by acting as if they were rich and famous on social media, primarily the visually-oriented Instagram.

So if someone proposes a festival where you can all mingle, you say YES!

This is not Coachella, with nearly 200,000 attendees. This is a small group, of not even five figures. An elite. The rest of us can’t afford it, or don’t know about it, we’re not allowed in.

The fact that the guy at the top was a crook?

That’s secondary.

And I worked for a sociopath. It doesn’t take long to realize they’re such. Because you don’t get paid. But they always find new marks, because their story is so good. How come more people didn’t quit? How come people invested with this clown?

Because they wanted to believe. That they were on to something new. That they could beat the investment game. Hitch their ride to this tireless self-promoter and win.

And the funny thing is Billy McFarland is just at one end of the continuum. Most successful entrepreneurs are hucksters, but how big are their lies? Despite running a public company, Elon Musk keeps promising to deliver cars and charging stations and misses his targets. If Tesla goes bankrupt, what are all the hipsters who own one gonna say, when they can’t get their cars repaired, when they’re worthless?

And getting them repaired already is difficult.

So what we have here is an American story. Man without portfolio wants to make it to the top. So he charms and pays people to get close. With better planning, the Fyre Festival would have worked out, and then you would have felt left out.

Kinda like Woodstock, which was a gargantuan failure until the album and movie rescued it.

Watch this movie, and when you see Billy and the models cavorting on the island you say to yourself…THAT LOOKS LIKE FUN!

And if you can get yourself some of that, would you pay a few grand for the opportunity?

Oh, there are federal workers laid off for a month who say they can’t make ends meet. On one hand, Americans can’t stop poor-mouthing. But on the other, there are plenty of twenty and thirtysomethings with disposable income. And everybody seems to want to overpay for luxury items.

So Billy beat the usual suspect festival promoters at their own game. They’re selling music, he’s selling EXPERIENCES! And it’s experiences that the millennials want.

This guy could make millions teaching old farts how to do it.

Meanwhile, everybody wanted in on the action, the experienced festival guy, the social media marketing company, they’re all lining up for the dream, to get paid, while those with the truly deep pockets are kicking the tires and becoming reluctant. What did Marcie Allen recently say, corporations are done with tour sponsorships?

So if you want to take the pulse of America, watch this movie.

Although it is two years out of date. The internet and social media are not static, they evolve. But the desire of hucksters to get rich and nobodies to be cool is never-ending.

823

That’s the number of albums A Boogie Wit da Hoodie sold last week to enter the chart at number one. And those were downloads, there wasn’t even a physical version.

So this ends the debate, everybody bitching about streaming, the war is over. Actually, complaining about music distribution/consumption is so old school. And a consumption game it is, would “Baby Shark” have hit the chart in a sales era? No. Because you buy it and every time you play it not only do the rightsholders not get paid, no one knows you did, it doesn’t get counted. So, hit streaming tracks are the gift that keeps on giving. They have an eternal life span, even though many hits don’t generate repeated play down the line, but some do!

So, we don’t have CDs. As for vinyl, a sideshow. And ignore the financial figures. They always trumpet gross numbers when net is what’s important. They add up list price instead of wholesale, never mind the end result in rightsholders’ pockets. But that’s the twenty first century, where facts are fungible and everybody believes every statistic they read. Not a month goes by without the virality of some oldster complaining that they had millions of streams and made no money. First and foremost, Pandora pays differently from on demand, and terrestrial radio doesn’t even pay on the recording. And someone only has a piece of a song and doesn’t own the publishing so you keep on hearing anti-streaming sentiment when the truth is the train has left the station and if you’re into physical, you’re left behind, at most you’re selling souvenirs, and no one’s got a CD player and if you saw the “stereo” systems people play their vinyl on…

You’d be better off with a boom box.

But it’s not only physical that’s dead, but the album too.

This is complicated. Because actually, every track on A Boogie Wit da Hoodie’s album “Hoodie SZN” has at least seven figures of streams, but it’s driven by the hits. And it’s the hits that pushed the album to number one.

That’s right, an album with ten tracks where one has eight figures of plays and the rest are barely listened to can still go to number one, because of the failings in “Billboard”‘s system. The truth is, with sales de minimis, it’s usually one track driving the entire album to number one, so really, in many cases, the album chart is a SINGLES CHART!

And if they get rid of the album chart, what will happen to albums?

All those alta kachers, wanting to go to number one, bundling tickets… Suddenly, that paradigm doesn’t work anymore, there are no bragging rights, you’re better off just putting out a single, since no one is listening to the rest of the LP anyway.

But with newer acts, especially rappers, there is a desire for more. But not just as an album, but as a regular flow of product.

As for Hoodie, he’s employing the usual paradigm of featuring other stars, like 6ix9ine and Offset and Tag and Juice WRLD, to get recognition. In other words, other stars are lifting up Hoodie and making him a star.

And what are the rockers doing?

Well, they did duets, a la Sinatra, then they did covers, and then they found out no one was listening.

Now I’m not saying other genres should have featured artists on tracks, but I am saying that hip-hop has a culture that is lacking in other musical fields. And it’s a self-perpetuating culture, with one act building upon another.

Then again, Hoodie’s playing clubs and other genres sell out arenas.

And of course it’s more complicated than that, but there’s a disconnect between breaking music and chart appearances. If only the public read about touring numbers as opposed to “albums” in the press.

Now country has a culture.

But in other fields, it’s every person to themselves, to their detriment.

The “Billboard” chart serves the major labels, but it does not serve music.

That’s gotta change.

Hickenlooper

I know him.

The only other politician I know up close and personal is my old friend Stanton Lesser, the attorney for the Town of Fairfield, then again, that’s not an elected position.

John’s wife Robin tracked me down, she’s a subscriber, she works at Liberty, and when they were in town last fall she suggested we get together. We did, at the Tavern in Brentwood, John noticed T-Bone Burnett sitting next to us, so I introduced them, you see Hickenlooper loves music. I remember riding the Highline Express when Strasburg took a call from the Governor, I think Don was working on the party for his inauguration, but if you know Strasburg, it’s so funny he knows the governor. As does Chuck.

But John Hickenlooper is not Governor of Colorado anymore, now he’s probably gonna run for President.

And I asked him, at that first meeting, WHY HIM? Especially because I could never imagine running for President myself. I mean who am I? I was brought up being told I was a s___head, and there was always someone else who could do it better. And John’s not one of those guys who overwhelms you, one of those can-do blowhards who you can listen to but cannot interact with.

John told me it was because he reinvented himself. Trained as a geologist, after losing his job he raised money to open a brew pub, ultimately having fourteen of them before they were sold. And he went into politics because…

Your dream. Do you even have one anymore? Or has America got you down to the point where you’ve lowered your expectations. Anyway, in the era I grew up in, the era Hickenlooper grew up in, you chose a profession and you stuck with it, the company took care of you, but homey don’t play that no more, you’re on your own in America.

So, seeing that businesses and communities needed to come together, he decided to run for Mayor of Denver. And won twice. Before becoming Governor twice, his term just ending. So what’s the next step?

Hickenlooper specializes in listening, bringing people together, that’s what he told me. And then he gave details, about rural and metropolitan, frackers and residents, public and charter schools. And the longer I listened, I thought…just maybe.

But everyone else said his name would stop him.

But if we can elect Barack Hussein Obama?

And to tell you the truth, I’ve got no problem with Elizabeth Warren, I’d vote for her in a heartbeat, but it seems everybody with money feels otherwise.

And then you start going down the list… Gillibrand…I’m never gonna forgive her for shooting Al Franken. Cory Booker? Some skeletons in the closet. As for the vaunted Joe Biden… Does anybody remember when he ran before? Just give Joe some time, and he’ll put his foot in his mouth. While he grins under those hair plugs. Never pay attention to the spin doctors, the prognosticators in the press, hell, “New York” magazine just reported that AOC has moved the corporate media to the left.

But Hickenlooper is a centrist. Are we looking for a centrist? Can millennials get excited about a centrist?

Someone asked John that tonight. He said yes, because he’s authentic.

And he is. He lacks charisma, he’s not like Bill Clinton with his aura, everybody who ever met Bill testifies about the glow when you’re in his presence. Hickenlooper is more like you and me. But maybe that’s his secret weapon.

But what about Trump, who denigrated Hillary and got away with it, would Hickenlooper go mano a mano?

He said he wouldn’t attack the Donald. But do we need someone who can put Donald in his place?

And then it comes down to track record. Hickenlooper’s got one, not only the legalization of marijuana in Colorado, but number one in job increase, so many other markers that senators can’t point to.

So, could he win?

I went to the Palisades tonight to hear him talk. It struck me how the attendees were monied. That’s right, he’s raising cash for an exploratory committee, and you need money, and without national name recognition can you do it like Bernie and Beto, one by one, via the public?

And so many of these people were in finance, working for the corporation. And I could not relate. Because I’m ten or fifteen years older, and our goals were different in a different time. We were about living the American Dream, less a house and a job and two cars in the garage than experiencing life, the good times. Hell, Hickenlooper went to Woodstock. Which was a financial disaster before the record and movie saved it.

Everybody’s playing it safe today, unlike the sixties, today’s generation is the man, and that bugs me. It’s about lifestyle, look, as opposed to who you are and what you think. Stunningly, the man of the house where the event was held leaned to the right, as so many who’ve won the economic wars have.

So you can get depressed.

Or you can be optimistic.

Trump has to lose. It’s just that simple.

But who is gonna beat him?

That’s all I care about, that a Democrat wins. Personally, I’m left of left, but I just want someone to emerge and become victorious in the national election.

So who is the candidate gonna be?

And the longer I hang with Hickenlooper, and his consigliere/wife Robin, I start to think this guy has a real chance. Because the experience didn’t shave off his rough edges. And he’s enthusiastic, and that’s contagious. He’s that guy in the huddle who keeps you going when the chips are down. You start to believe.

So it’s funny being at the beginning, even knowing a potential Presidential candidate. But that’s where the written word’ll get you. Hell, I didn’t make a donation tonight. But my writing led Robin to me and suddenly I’m standing in the hallway discussing strategy with Hickenlooper.

And let’s be honest, I don’t think I belong there. I came in my jeans and sneakers, my Vail vest, when everybody else looked like they came from the boardroom.

Then again, just like at John’s Wesleyan, at Middlebury it was all about who you were on the inside.

And Ryan Tedder spoke, he used to live in Colorado, he and Hickenlooper are friends, and said he didn’t vote for Trump but he couldn’t vote for Hillary.

WHY?

Because the Republicans defined her? Made a big deal about Benghazi and all the rest of the crap that meant nothing when Trump did and has done so much worse?

Then again, Hillary was anything but authentic.

Is there such a thing as an authentic politician?

So Hickenlooper is heavily involved in the music scene in Colorado. He knows Nathaniel Rateliff, he knows the Lumineers and their handlers. And he put in light rail so you can get to Red Rocks and the number of gigs at the legendary outdoor venue soared from double to triple digits. This guy is a fan, a believer. He was not brought up with a silver spoon, he’s just like you and me.

In an era where we laud celebrities and people float Oprah’s name as a candidate can someone who is relatively soft-spoken who has done the work win?

I think maybe so.

Watch this space. Expect Hickenlooper to announce. A relative with the same last name was an elected official in Iowa forever. John’s got a relationship with a restaurant chain owner in New Hampshire.

He could win.

And I could know him.

How strange is that?

I guess I’ve got to say we still live in the greatest country in the world. There is still social fluidity. But we need more. More chances, more opportunities.

Could Hickenlooper deliver them?

Just maybe.

Secret Weapons-SiriusXM This Week

Marc Reiter, creative majordomo for Metallica, will be joining me tomorrow to analyze and discuss secret weapons.

As Marc so eloquently put it:

“Secret weapons: Band members who may not have seemed important , but in truth, were indispensable. Once they departed/were kicked out, the band was never the same.

Some examples:

Michael Anthony (VH)

Bill Berry (R.E.M.)

Stan Lynch (Heartbreakers) …and Howie Epstein?

Bonehead from Oasis

Randy Meisner

Steve Clark from Def Leppard”

You get the picture, join the discussion!

Tune in tomorrow, Tuesday January 15, on Volume 106, 7 PM East, 4 PM West.

Phone #: 844-6-VOLUME, 844-686-5863

Twitter: @siriusxmvolume/#lefsetzlive

Hear the episode live on SiriusXM VOLUME: siriusxm.us/HearLefsetzLive

If you miss the episode, you can hear it on demand on the SiriusXM app: siriusxm.us/LefsetzLive