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Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Nobody Likes to Argue...

Another excellent article from Bob Lefsetz:

That's what Steve Jobs did best. Wrestle with concepts, do his best to tease out excellence. It's what's absent from our me-too society.

There's a culture of business books that teach you how to get along. As if life is a game with set rules and you only have to learn them to win. But what's great about life is there are no rules, it's changing every day, and he who is on top of the world today might be a shithead tomorrow, it happens just that fast. You've got to keep your eyes open, you've got to be ever-changing, resting on laurels is for pussies.

But we've created a culture where he who is rich is king. You don't challenge society's winners. That's what the media and the wealthy have against Occupy Wall Street. They won, the game is over, shut up and go home. But if it's not reasonable to ask why someone is paid double digit millions to do a piss-poor job, then it makes no sense to ask questions at all.

And the reason the music business has become a second class citizen is because it has embraced these same concepts. The executives are kings. You do it their way. Do you hear anybody standing up to Jimmy Iovine?

That would be like standing up to David Geffen. And if you don't know what I mean, you've never met the man.

And isn't it funny that art is supposed to challenge preconceived notions.

Everything's up for grabs. That's what's wrong with assembly line Top Forty, it's not. You've got usual suspect writers and producers doing it the same way as more and more people tune out. Sure, Top Forty might have the most critical mass, but its share is shrinking.

Then there are the wannabes who just can't handle the truth. That they can't sing and can't play. Steve Jobs tolerated no bozos, he believed in A players, that these top-notch people inspired each other.

If you're not willing to look at yourself, evaluate the criticism, you're never going to win. Steve Jobs rarely responded, but he read all his e-mail. He was taking the temperature, he didn't want to lose touch.

We've got a whole industry that's lost touch. With overpriced tickets you can't even get. If you owe your career to your fans, shouldn't you treat them best?

I'm always questioning, always probing, and I always get the same response. THE MONEY! That's the answer to everything these days, you can't argue with monetary success. But I will. Because it doesn't last forever.

Who are the leaders in our industry? It's devolved into a zillion fiefdoms. No one with any power is leading for the sake of the industry. And that's just sad.

Stop kissing butt. Be brutally honest. No amount of ass-kissing can turn a second-rate track into a classic.

Everybody's so busy protecting their own turf they can't see that the landscape is being pulled from beneath them. Whether it be the tone deaf classic artists bitching they're being ripped off by the public or the newbies lamenting there's no one with a deep pocket, no label to make and save them. That's like being angry you can't find someone to buy you an IBM Selectric after the introduction of the Apple II.

Jobs wanted to revolutionize textbooks. Sure, he was gonna sell a lot of iPads, but kids would have less to slog around, but more important, he knew that the creation of textbooks had become politicized, that they were written by committee and took years to write. But if he got experts to create them and gave them away for free... He could do an end run around the establishment.

That's what Steve Jobs considered himself. A rebel.

There are no rebels in music anymore. Everybody wants to sell out to the corporation, whether it be Jay-Z or the wannabe or Live Nation trumpeting its marketing deals with the Fortune 500.

What in the hell happened to us? We didn't used to need anybody else. The music was enough. And we had to get it as right as Steve Jobs did with Apple products.

Me-too never delivers greatness. May temporarily deliver money, but not quality.

That's what made Steve angry. Companies run by marketers. He didn't put money first, Apple led with its products. Microsoft is now run by a marketer and look where it's taken them, straight to the dumper.

I guess you could say you bought their stock and dumped it before stagnation, but I'd say you're just a profiteer. Everything Microsoft has ever made is imperfect, has rough edges, just like the Word processor I'm using to write this screed. But rather than delineate its faults, let me just say when I encounter greatness, perfection, I'm thrilled, I tell everybody about it. That person, that team would settle for no less, it whittled ideas into seamless quality. That's what sells. But even more important, that's what we're looking for. Everybody.

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