It’s been a few weeks since my last Lefschmutz column due to other priorities. I also needed to clear my head from the steady stream of bullshit that Bob keeps sending my way. But then I saw him try to give advice to Mick Jagger and, well, here we are again, folks.
Sales this week: 7,399
Weeks on chart: 3
Percentage drop: -40.1
1. Mick Jagger doesn’t know who his audience is.
My guess is that he doesn’t give a shit, either.
I’m not saying he doesn’t have an idea who might buy this album,
Of course he does. He lumps all 30,000 of them into a group he calls “morons.”
it’s just that he doesn’t have a personal relationship with them, he has no line of communication…
“Hey Jann, this is Mick. I’ve got some stupid thing with Dave Stewart, Joss Stone, one of Marley’s kids – no, not Ziggy – and some Indian dude coming out. Give it a good review for ol’ time’s sake, will ya?”
Boom, there’s his line of communication, and it’s all he needs.
HE DOESN’T HAVE THEIR E-MAIL ADDRESSES!
Wait, you mean you don’t get a personal e-mail from Mick every time a song from Hot Rocks comes up on Shuffle Play? And you call yourself a music industry insider.
And yes, the all caps was Bob’s.
That’s your number one promotion job, finding out exactly who your audience is. So you can make them aware of your new work and infect them and get them to spread the word. This is the most efficient marketing system. It’s direct to fan. And it’s incumbent upon all acts to do this.
Bob, do you really believe a) a rock legend, should act like an indie band, b) you understand the music business better than Sir Mick London School Of Fucking Economics Jagger, and c) that he treats Superheavy as anything more than a personal favor to Dave Stewart?
2. If you want sales make Top Forty music.
Bob’s wisdom today comes courtesy of the Department Of Redundancy Department.*
You can get around this if you’re the Dave Matthews Band, if you know who your audience is as per #1 above.
You’re so enamored with your screed about Jagger’s blank e-mail address book that we should read it again? Christ, you’re delusional.
If not, you’re gonna sell bupkes.
I love bupkes. My grandmother’s were so good she could have made a fortune selling them if she had tried. In case you’re not Jewish, would you like to be? they’re fried potato pancakes that you eat with applesauce at Hannukah time.
Oh, wait. Those are latkes. Never mind.
3. If you’re gonna make Top Forty music, work with Dr. Luke or Max Martin, the producer/writer du jour.
You might think the Top Forty game is simple, but it’s not.
You just said how easy it was in YOUR PREVIOUS SENTENCE!
The winners in the field have not only worked in it for years, they’ve studied it, they know what works, they’ve put in the time.
The Stones, on the other hand, didn’t hone their craft at all. They’re losers.
Respect them for it.
“I can spend every other column pissing all over them, but you should respect them.”
4. If you don’t make Top Forty music, you must go on the road.
That’s where you build careers today, that’s where you maintain them.
And the Stones made Top 40 music AND went on the road so that they could do whatever the hell they wanted in their old age without having to justify themselves to you.
But if you’re doing something new, you’ve got to break all the rules.
Yeah, that’s kind of the definition of “something new.”
People don’t expect the solo band member to replicate the group hits, they expect to be disappointed. So they don’t want to go, they certainly don’t want to overpay.
Paul McCartney, Neil Young, Phil Collins, any of the main guys from N.W.A. or the Wu-Tang Clan, Beyonce, Paul Simon, Sting, Dave Grohl, Peter Gabriel, Lionel Richie…
So you’ve got to underplay and undercharge as an investment in your career. And you’ve got to over-deliver, so when you come back again, soon, patrons will bring their friends, so you can build. It’s a lot of hard work, something that’s anathema to the superstars going solo.
And what the hell does this have to do with anything? Oh, right. Some thing Jagger parodied himself on isn’t selling.
5. TV can sell music.
If you’re on the show and the track is perceived to be good. Ergo the success of “Moves Like Jagger” and the failure of the Steven Tyler track.
If people like a song, they’ll buy it. It’s a good thing this e-mail is free because that’s some priceless insight.
A guest shot is almost meaningless. What you’re selling here is your connection with the viewer, who sees you every week.
“Viewers,” Bob. Use the plural in this situation.
They feel like they know you.
Then why aren’t albums by American Idol winners selling?
They’ll buy the track in solidarity if they believe it’s great. Tyler’s track was a joke, a boring, perfunctory exercise. Today you’ve got to be better than great to succeed.
Or you can just work with Dr. Luke or Max Martin.
J. Lo delivered a track better than what she’d done in years, so her fans bought it, but no one else did, because J. Lo’s a great dancer, can be a good actress, but she’s a no-talent musical artist.
“Respect the people who make Top 40 music, except J-Lo. She sucks.”
6. You have to ask yourself if you’re a musician or a star.
Wait for it…
Mick Jagger is certainly a star. But no one thinks he’s a musician.
I may have to have to retire this column after reading that. My job here is to make Bob look ridiculous, but I don’t think I can possibly do it better than he just did with this sentence.
Most people believe he hasn’t done anything great since the sixties.
You haven’t asked “most people” and, more importantly, you don’t know what the fuck you’re talking about.
You can no longer coast, unless you’re going on the road and playing those ancient hits. You’ve got to prove it every day.
Mick Jagger doesn’t have to prove anything to you, or me, or anybody else, at any time. His vocals on “I Got The Blues” are all the proof I’ll ever need.** That doesn’t mean I’ll go out and buy everything he does and think it’s as good as Exile On Main Street, but you only need to listen to that song to know that he’s a musician.
7. Mainstream publicity reaches the mainstream.
For those of you keeping score, that’s four redundancies and two contradictions.
Oh, yeah. And one “Mick Jagger isn’t a musician.”
And the mainstream is last, they’re the followers, not the chance-takers. The movers and shakers, the early adopters who’ll spread the word, ignore the mainstream press. Better to reach a few fanatical bloggers than the “New York Times”.
Jagger’s audience isn’t hipsters, so why does he need the support of music bloggers? His fanbase reads Rolling Stone and the New York Times and listens to classic rock radio or NPR. Besides, if the influence of the music blogosphere was remotely as big as Bob suggests, the Top 40 would look entirely different.
By the way, here are the RSS subscription numbers in Google Reader of some hip music blogs as of this writing:
NPR — All Songs Considered: 650
Brooklyn Vegan: 1,941
Aquarium Drunkard: 2,735
Pitchfork — Latest News: 3,087
Pitchfork — Album Reviews: 3,645
Now let’s look at the same numbers of those dinosaurs that apparently don’t understand the web:
Rolling Stone — All News: 9,652
The New York Times‘ Arts Section: 24,680
And keep in mind that’s only the Google Reader numbers. In other words, the tech-savvy new generation is getting destroyed by the old media in terms of eyeballs on new media platforms. That’s not even counting the number of people who access it via their apps and Kindles and buy the actual newspaper or magazine.
8. Everything above is known to everybody under thirty.
But it’s all a secret to everybody over thirty, especially those who’ve had success in the past.
Except you’ve just been proven wrong. By a landslide. Here’s a tip, Bob. Do your research before you spout off.
Artists don’t realize that today your past history gives you a foot in the door and nothing more. Youngsters know it’s all about the grass roots, building community online, or playing the overly-promoted Top Forty game.
Right, Bob. Superheavy isn’t selling because Jagger’s not on Twitter sharing all the details of his life. It wouldn’t have anything to do with the fact that it’s an unlistenable piece of dogshit that’s been universally panned.
Except by Rolling Stone, where Will Hermes called it “terrifically fun” and gave it four stars. See my earlier point about Jagger’s line of communication.
I know I’m digressing here, but can you imagine how awesome Jagger’s Twitter feed would be, especially if Twitter was around in the mid-70s? I may have to start @Fake70sJagger.
“Keef called me a ‘fucking tosspot’ in studio today. When he nodded off, I played connect-the-track-marks on his arm. #winning”
“At Studio 54. Did a line of blow off Liza’s ass. Bianca’s pissed.”
It’s fine if you want to give up. But if you want to make new music and have it get traction today you must obey the above rules.
I thought if you wanted to do something new you had to break all the rules? As we head into the final paragraph, contradictions are catching up to redundancies. It’s now 4-3. Can they pull it off a miracle?
And the music must be great. But that’s no guarantee everybody’s going to pay attention. This is where your history hurts you, people expect your new material to be crap.
And yet, if Jagger’s name wasn’t on this, it wouldn’t have even sold 30,000.
If it’s great, you have to wait for the hype to die down and for the music to percolate in society. Traction will be slow and small. This album may not ever blow up.
It won’t. It sucks.
It may be the one after or the one after that.
Don’t give up hope, Mick! Keep plugging away and one day Bob may consider you a real musician!
You’re starting all over.
Starting all over, except that he can book a stadium tour for next summer without breaking a sweat.
*I’m pretty sure I got this from an old Robin Williams HBO special, which means that he probably stole it from another comedian. Full circle, and all that.
** Other deep album tracks considered before settling on “I Got The Blues” as Jagger’s definitive vocal performance: “Let It Loose,” “Rocks Off,” “Sway,” “Loving Cup.” I listen to Exile and Sticky Fingers a lot.