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Thursday, March 12, 2009

The Lefsetz Plan

Industry gadfly Bob Lefsetz had a brilliant idea in one of his recent newsletters. With the film business doing so well because it's a cheap source of escapist entertainment, why not do the same thing with the music business? One night, all over the country, a musical act in every venue for the same price.

Here's a quote of exactly what Bob proposed in his newsletter:
I'm positively stunned at the movie grosses. It appears that during the recession, people want cheap, escapist entertainment. But the best movie doesn't compare with live music. Which is why we in the music industry are going to steal the movie business' thunder, we're going to unite and show the public the power of live music.

We're gonna start with one night. A weeknight. A relatively dark night. A Monday or a Tuesday. On said weekday in every venue in every city there's going to be talent, performing live, for the exact same price of a movie. Ten bucks. Paid in cash. No ticketing fees, no facility fees, no bullshit. Ten bucks.

And who is going to perform?

Let's start in L.A. Stevie Wonder is gonna play Staples. Prince is gonna play the Hollywood Bowl. My buddy Billy Gibbons and his band ZZ Top are going to play the Nokia. Kanye West is going to play the Palladium. AND THEY'RE GOING TO DONATE THEIR SERVICES! To a good cause, the industry that pays their bills.

If you want to get rich, be an athlete. Except for a few superstars, musicians are now the itinerant troubadours they've been for ages. Getting off on the good times, the sex and the dope. The reward is playing. The NFL might get everybody to tune into the Super Bowl, but no musical act can get that kind of coverage, that number of eyeballs, no matter how the deck is stacked. There's endless music, and everybody's got his own favorite, which is why we're going to have a multitude of bands playing. But this benefit is for the business itself, to keep it alive. It's time for this industry to do a benefit for ITSELF!

Don't tell me about the lines, about people camping overnight, about those who can't get in. THIS IS WHAT WE WANT! This is how you generate publicity. This is the story the press wants to cover. Much more than the endless I'm sitting in front of my computer and can't get good seats from Ticketmaster.

Think of the heat, think of the ink, think of the publicity!

But our primary mission is to grow live music. Plain and simple.

Concerts are too expensive. Too many shows are about choreography rather than musical excellence. We want to illustrate the sheer joy of music, naked and unadorned.
Boy, is he right. Going to a show is way too expensive, especially in this economic environment. What ticks everyone off the most is when Ticketmaster adds on the "convenience charges" and "facility charge" and the "ticket printing charge" so your $40 ticket (if you're lucky) turns into 60. Add $15 for parking, $10 for a beer and if you've got anything left over, $15 for a T-shirt and you have an expensive night out.

And going to a club is no better, although no one is making money there. There's zero margin, but it's still too expensive.

The concert industry will price itself out of existence if it doesn't wise up soon, and the Lefsetz plan is a good start.

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