by LUKE BAUMGARTEN & r & & r & People Who Care & r & & r & Bob Lefsetz is not a temperate man. The industry wonk's blog is required reading for L.A. record-exec types desperate for inspiration on how to unsink their sunk ships. It's required reading -- daily, right before hotchickswithdouchebags.com -- for me because, what else am I going to do?
Lefsetz is a bright man, but hyperbolic. He's the king of taking a smart observation with limited application and pounding the peg into any hole he sees, regardless of the shape.
Last Friday, he chastised bands for going on Letterman under the title "Don't Play for People Who Don't Care." Good point. The number of times I've turned off Letterman when the band came on, compared to when I've turned on Letterman to see a band, is hundreds and zero, respectively. He goes on to say you should never open for the Rolling Stones because their fans paid hundreds of dollars to hear "Brown Sugar," not to care about you. A less-great point, but still defensible.
Then, though, he swings and misses, telling bands to not lend their music out to TV or film. Whoa there, tiger. Media is synergistic. Soundtracks still sell. If people care about a TV show, they'll care about the music in it. God knows I liked a lot of songs from The O.C. that I'm not proud of. (I had a man-lationship with Adam Brody, but broke it off after watching In the Land of Women.) More important, I had Brazilian punk band CSS sitting on my hard drive for months, but didn't actually give them a listen until I heard "Music Is My Boyfriend" on an iTunes commercial.
"What band's that? [Googling] Oh, word, I got that." I owned the damn thing and didn't give it the time until a beat caught me during a commercial. The band's mediocrity led me to spin the album maybe once. For a minute, though, that commercial made me care.
So absolutely, cater to your fans, keep it small. Pick your promotional jabs. Avoid Letterman. (And Conan, increasingly, but take a hard look at SNL, a ghost-ship hipsters still sometimes TiVo on the off chance that Justin Timberlake might guest-host). If you only play to people who care, though, new carers will be slow in coming. The game is totally different, but people haven't changed much.