BOB LEFSETZ ON GODSMACK, DEFTONES
I’ve gotten out of the habit of reading industry pundit Bob Lefsetz lately. It’s not that I stopped liking the guy or disagreeing with his rants about the current and future state of the music industry; I guess I just got tired of reading about his ski trips, and his new music recommendations are so irrelevant that they threaten the integrity of his industry rants. Still, when it comes to major label / old music biz world shenanigans and calling them out, no one’s smarter or funnier than Lefsetz.
It was actually Lefsetz that inspired me to run my not-quite-weekly Soundscan Chart roundups, and since last week’s charts included some notable heavy hitters and I didn’t do a writeup I’d like to call in Mr. Lefsetz for his own analysis. Of course, in our world Godsmack and the Deftones are ginormous behemoths — two of the biggest bands we ever talk about on this site — but Bob points out that they’re pretty small potatoes all things considered (truth). Still, for someone that’s got little to no knowledge of metal, Bob displays a knowledgeable understanding of each band’s place in the world:
Sales this week: 117,481
…I’ll guarantee you almost no one knows Godsmack. Take a survey, in a country of three hundred million how many even recognize the name, never mind know the music.
Not that there’s anything wrong with that. Godsmack has a hard core fan base. Which rushed out and bought this album this week. After they’ve all got it, then what? Maybe there’ll be airplay and sustaining sales. But I doubt they’ll be anywhere near enough to put “Oracle” at the top of the chart.
In other words, Godsmack had the number one album this week and that doesn’t mean a whole hell of a lot. Old wave media will trumpet the band’s success…and you wonder why people are avoiding newspapers in droves, tuning out vapid television. Because in a world of endless information, we want no information not relevant to us, certainly without explanation as to why it should be relevant to us.
And it’s not only music. They make many fewer movies than record albums, so looking at the movie grosses gives you a better idea of what’s happening in the marketplace. Then again, what is really happening? A bunch of adolescents dying to get out of the house went to see a hundred million dollar extravaganza, a visual pinball machine?
But you can fool the audience once, which is what movies are about, but it’s hard to fool the audience again and again, which is why we’ve had so few career artists in the past two decades. We’re selling our acts like movies, all flash and expensive marketing. Few care, and those who do partake oftentimes leave the experience claiming it’s crap. Furthermore, they can go online and find out everybody else thinks it’s crap too.
This baffles the purveyors. They want to believe nothing’s changed. But in pursuit of ever higher grosses, to support their lifestyles, they’ve removed the rough edges, they’ve homogenized the product for consumption, they’ve removed the essence. They’ve turned Coke into New Coke. And you remember that debacle…
Godsmack is more dependent on airplay than other hard rock acts. And funnily enough, the less you’re dependent on airplay, the longer and deeper your shelf life in the hard rock world. But at least the band can claim a number one, can take pleasure in still having a career a few albums in.
But most of us don’t care.
Doesn’t mean the music is good or bad.
Just means that we don’t care and there’s almost nothing the machine can do to make us care.
6. Deftones “Diamond Eyes”
Sales this week: 62,267
See Godsmack above. But the Deftones are just a little less mainstream, which means they’ve got a little more credibility and ultimately a little more longevity, they are even less hit dependent.
Not bad for a supposed old fart. In fact, I’d say that analysis is pretty damned accurate.