Every once in a while I come across an article that’s so damn great I feel like I want to just rip it off and post the whole thing right here on this site. I won’t do that of course, but I will tell you that music industry guru Bob Lefsetz’s blog might be my new favorite thing to read online. I got hooked into reading about 50 of his daily ‘letters” last night and found them all to be really applicable to the comedy game even if they’re ostensibly about the music industry.
One in particular that I think is a must-read for comedians is this post about Kanye West. In it, Bob begins by asking, “How does an artist go from being the most hated man in America to #1?” and goes on to lay out 8 specific secrets to Kanye’s success. Here’s a taste:
4. If you’re not willing to give away something for free, you’re not willing to have a career. If Kanye can give away free tracks, why can’t you? It’s about your relationship with your fans. The song doesn’t have to be on the album. You’ve got to know where in the food chain to charge, and it’s not at every contact point.
5. Maintain contact. You’re doing your own act. Now, with the Internet, you don’t need permission to do it. You can perform on YouTube, you can tweet, less is more is history. Now you always give more, and the public decides how much it wants to graze in your neighborhood. Fans come and go, but you can’t let it impact your art. You’ve got to do what you want to do, not what you think the audience wants.
6. Have a personality. If no one hates you, you’re not doing it right.
7. Don’t focus on the album release. Your marketing’s got to go on for years. The Doobie Brothers released a new album. Straight to the dumper. There was no Twitter presence, no fan engagement, just a record most fans don’t know exists and don’t want anyway. And I only use the Doobies because they’re an ancient act, and all the ancient acts don’t know how to do it. You don’t need a label and you don’t need an album. You need fans, which you’ve got, and you need to know how to reach each and every one of them. Pat Simmons should have played acoustic in someone’s house. The band should have done live performances of classics on YouTube. They should have gotten their fans involved. If Paul McCartney wants to sell a new album, he’s gonna have to do it this way too. Unless you want to be a recluse, if you want to survive in the new world, you’ve got to get yourself out there. Don’t pooh-pooh it as marketing, it’s performing! And isn’t that what you do! And it can be as much about music as you want it to be.
God, I think I’m in love.