9/23/2009

Bob Lefsetz: Stop Him If You've Heard This One Before

Former major label executive/blogger/piracy apologist, and all-around curmudgeon Bob Lefsetz rubs us the wrong way.
Yes, he brought the loathsome Gene Simmons down a notch when
he matched wits with the long-tongued lothario/businessman and sometime musician at a Canadian Music Week event earlier this year, deriding the latter’s cluelessness regarding the current state of
the music business, as the latter tried to sell his new label idea to unsigned bands from the Great White North. (Albeit without ever mentioning Lefsetz himself being a former cog in the big record label machine.) But his latest target has us foaming at the mouth.

Lefsetz condescendingly belittles British pop star Lily Allen for her recently publicized staunch attacks on music pira—um, “file-sharing” in the UK. Dripping with sarcasm he states:

Why don’t we just turn over GM to the drivers? Hell, I’m in my car every day, I know how to run Chevrolet!

Or maybe cancer patients should draft the health care bill. Hell, they’ve been sick!

To let artists have the final say on file-sharing is like firing Derek Jeter and letting a fan play shortstop. Hell, I’ve watched a lot of baseball, I know what’s involved!

You don’t.

A great artist is just that. He couldn’t design Facebook, couldn’t create the iPod… His input is important, but just because he’s affected by file-trading, that doesn’t mean he understands it, has the right opinion on how to eradicate it, assuming that’s the ultimate desire.

How long do we have to watch this movie? It’s been ten years already, and one thing we’ve learned is the technologists are always one step ahead. Kind of like cable. When everyone was pirating pay channels by removing the filters on poles and under houses providers didn’t win by suing people, but by coming up with a better mousetrap, scrambled digital transmission!

In other words, the solution to the file-trading problem is not legislative, it requires business innovation. Which I don’t expect to come from Ms. Allen, I’ve never heard she was a good programmer.

Yeah, except, you’ve made some bad analogies, Bob. (And why won't you acknowledge how the "good programmer" types got us into this mess in which they have taken the way we value the art form back half a century, paradoxically, into a new singles era, huh?)

What we have is people who want—hell, in many instances, demand—goods free of charge, with no consideration for the time, money, and effort invested producing in them. Those of us who abhor this situation may not necessarily have the answers, but we can all agree the final word does belong to those who create it. Why should artists be subject to a different standard than anyone else? Try taking a truck off a GM factory or lot and see what happens. (Get back to us on that one, Bob.)

Of course the bloated, corrupt, greedy entities in the music biz screwed things up and deserve to have their world turned upside down. But the artists should not be the victims of this malfeasance. Nor are they deserving of the performing monkey-type scorn that Lefsetz so gleefully heaps on them, and in this case, Allen in particular. That’s the kinda thing the Big Machine would do and frequently did. (We're not referring to the Nashville-based country music label of the same name, btw.) No wonder Lefsetz was an industry insider. He still acts like the same folks he likes to pride himself on calling out.

Such bullshit.

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