David and The Machine

Photo: Celebration of Dreams Gala

Thanks to @jonerz, I’ve been subscribing for a while to Bob Lefsetz’s “Lefsetz Letters” blog about the music industry. I don’t read all of his posts, but I thought this recent one held some great insights, generally and in terms of David’s career.

Bob’s take on what separates one-hit-wonders from music acts with longevity reinforces, for me, what David has said in recent interviews about wanting not to rush things he’s working on, and about building a foundation and concentrating on developing his own music, his own sound … words like these:

“It’s just a matter of being able to take that time, I think, to figure out the person I want to be and the artist I want to continue becoming. I didn’t want to just go with, ‘OK, I’m just gonna listen to whatever these people say because they know how to make me successful and rich and famous.’ As appealing as that might sound, that just doesn’t appeal to me. I guess my priorities are different. I want to make sure that I make music that lasts.

“I’ve been experimenting. I’ve been writing. Aside from the Asian tour I did this summer, I’ve taken time aside just to kind of figure out, “OK, what do I want to do with myself? What do I want to do with my life? What’s important to me for the years to come?” instead of feeling like you need to keep moving with the current of success or else you’re not gonna get anywhere. I definitely want to do music for the rest of my life. So I just want to make sure that I’m doing music in the way that I feel is the way I need to.” Rest here.

I’m still happy David decided to go on Idol … yes, for selfish reasons, but also because it gave him at least a core fan base to build on that may not have been possible otherwise. The strings attached included putting him in that “made by the machine” category that he clearly does not want to be in or he’d have taken those other offers Jive presented to him.

As he told LDS Living Magazine recently:

“ Record label management… would say, ‘You don’t know what you want to be. This is who you are.’ But I told them, ‘You know what? That’s not who I am. Regardless if that’s what will get more radio play, that’s not what I’m supposed to do. I don’t want double-meaning lyrics. I don’t want things to be taken the wrong way. Music has an impact, and as an artist I can influence the way people think, the way they feel. No one can tell me what I am and I am not. I’m just going to be true to myself.’”

This particular line in Bob Lefsetz’s post really struck me: “That’s your mission, convincing people who think everything’s crap you’re not” — because I’m one of those people who think everything’s crap (or at least most acts who are shoved down our collective throats) but immediately noticed three years ago on “Shop Around” night that David is not.

Anyway, read on and let me know what you guys think:

***********************

These Bands Have No Fans
The Lefsetz Letters

Album: Feist “Metals”:
Sales this week: 10,222
Sales last week: 15,359
Percentage drop: -33%
Weeks on chart: 3
Chart position this week: 35
Chart position last week: 22
Debuted at: 7
Cume: 63,666

I want you to read this article from today’s “Guardian”: “When Bands Fall Off Cliffs.”

For those on mobiles or just too lazy to click through, the subtitle is: “You sell a couple million albums. You’re adored. Then 90% of your fanbase deserts you – and your record label isn’t far behind. Rob Fitzpatrick investigates band collapse syndrome.”

It all comes down to radio. Either it plays your new single or you collapse. Live by the sword, die by the sword. Doesn’t matter what you did in the past, if your new record ain’t a hit on the radio, you’re toast. Just look at Christina Aguilera. Her album stunk up the joint, she got no traction at radio, and she had to cancel her whole damn tour.

Didn’t used to be this way. Used to be bands were developed slowly. The audience saw them as more than one-hit wonders. These are the classic rock acts. Once we got to the video era, band shelf lifes shortened. Now it’s nonexistent.

If you were made by the machine.

Hypnotize and mesmerize 'em, D.!

If you made it outside the system, if it was about touring and gaining fans slowly, you’re laughing all the way to the bank. Recorded music revenue may be way down, but Phish is still cleaning up on the road, despite never having a mainstream radio hit, without having any radio airplay whatsoever, except for pockets of college and Triple-A exposure.

And then there are the electronica acts. Arguably, Tiesto is the biggest touring act in the business. Sure, there are a handful of acts who could draw more, but Tiesto can do it night after night, every show is different, people come for the experience. And most of America’s got no idea who Tiesto is, they’ve never even heard the name.

Today’s big Top-40 star, Rihanna, if she fails at radio next time, she’s in the same boat as Christina Aguilera. Same deal with Katy Perry. See why the major labels are up in arms, why they’re freaking out? You can’t sell a record and nothing lasts, how’s that for a paradigm?

Now the above Feist numbers are far from terrible. And everyone says the record is good. But let’s leave the music out of the equation. Last time around she had a hit, if she doesn’t have one this time…she’s going to fade into obscurity. There won’t be a farewell tour, no cleaning up financially before she returns to the Great White North. Oftentimes, the revenue you book when you’re hot is the only revenue you’re ever gonna get. Save your pennies, because the future is dark and dismal.

So what game do you want to play?

If you want to last, head straight for the wilderness. Leave the big machine behind. Work neither radio nor television. Concoct a 10-year plan instead of a 10-minute plan. It’s probably gonna take you that long to get noticed and build. But once you’ve made it, you’ll have a fan base that supports you. You may starve until you’re 30 and not even be comfortable until you’re 40. And it’s not your fault, it’s hard to reach people and they’re conditioned to believe everything is evanescent and close to worthless, why should you be different?

The machine lauds new music and movies, which flow over the audience like a tsunami. You didn’t like last week’s flick? Don’t worry, we’ve got 10 more for you this weekend! Many people tune out. They believe there’s nothing good out there. But you know this is not true. But it’s hard to convince those who believe otherwise. That’s your mission, convincing people who think everything’s crap you’re not.

And as soon as they see you dancing, in fashion shoots, hear your song on Top-40 radio, they put you in that category, of here today, gone tomorrow. We used to look up to those trumpeted in the media. Now they’re fodder for ridicule. That’s what TMZ and Radar are all about. Everyone knows your name, but they’re laughing at you.

You’ve got to have fans to survive. View it like a marriage. You date plenty, but the thought of being hitched up to these people is anathema, you’d rather commit suicide. You’re looking for that one true love. Same deal with establishing a fan of a band.

P.S. Spoiler Alert!
Here are scans of all the LDS Living article pages (click through then click on page to enlarge for reading … thank youuuu, @verdespickles!!!):

Front cover
Contents page
Title page photo
Title page caption
Article Page 1
Article Page 2
Article Page 3
SF’s sparkly Idol Tour suit photo 🙂
Article Page 4
Article Page 5

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45 Responses to David and The Machine

  1. TOfan says:

    Angels vid from last night:

    • abanana77 says:

      Wow. I will never get sick if watching him perform this song. Ever.

      • refnaf says:

        WOW > can he emote or what???!!!

      • TOfan says:

        me neither…and I don’t know if it’s cause I hadn’t heard it in a while or because he was singing it to the young cancer patients or just because it’s David but this one really got me.

        …and here’s ATM

        …and Crush

        One of my favourite versions of Crush ever! So subdued & haunting, wow.

        Download mp3s of all 3 songs HERE.

  2. Heidijoy says:

    Thanks for the thought provoking article Tofan. I too am glad David was on Idol for our sake and he has a great foundation to build on. I give David credit for turning down a contract knowing that the machine didn’t “get” him. I admire David for wanting a meaningful long term career and wants to do it the right way and stay true to himself while gaining knowledge about life and the sound he wants. He doesn’t want a quick fix but music that means something to him and his fans. Yes he has lost some “fans” and some youth this way but he is very smart and a core group of us who are here for the long run. David is solid and I feel the SOUL in his music more and more.

    Love the performance of Angels…so heartfelt and passionate. I was picturing the audience of those children and their families.

  3. river992 says:

    Thank you for posting the article. I loved it all.The last paragraph was particularly telling. I truly hope that David chooses to continue to share his music, his time, his humor and his life with us. I cannot imagine a future without his presence and I look forward to continuing the journey we all take together. How did these 4 years pass so quickly, yet every memory is etched so clearly.

  4. Jane says:

    WOW!!!! I’ll be a fan forever…no matter what rode he takes I’ll be there for him and I admire him for sharing his music with us. I for one wish him the best and I’ll be there supporting him all the way. Great article…

  5. refnaf says:

    Great research TOfan! This article is so interesting…. lots of interesting comments on the original article as well. This comment by lierbag adds something that I think makes sense>
    “I suspect our modern high-tech society has speeded up the fragmentation of those cohesive ‘youth’ movements, whose existence buoyed up record sales via promotion of support for artists whom people felt they could relate to; being emblematic of ‘who they were’ and what they ‘were into’. So much social networking goes on via other means these days, and outlets for people to make their own personal statements have increased exponentially – so much so, that bands and music have been relegated in importance (to the level of just another product on the supermarket shelf) as a result.”
    ^^^Music as a product rather than art…..seems to be the status quo in the industry …. but I think lots of artists are breaking that mold and redefining what success is. IMO David is on the right path…. slow and steady, doing it the way he feels it.
    None of my grown children listen to “radio” music…. they know some pretty obscure bands and from some of the music David has said he is listening to, he does the same> I am pretty sure he would be quite happy without reaching “machine” levels of success.

    Thanks for the LDS scans too TOfan….
    I am repeating this HE WANTS TO DO MUSIC FOR THE REST OF HIS LIFE… I’ll be here as long as I am able.. woot

    • TOfan says:

      Ref, so true about artists breaking that mould more and more and redefining what success means … just read this great article on TCW (HERE) and hadn’t realized how similar Joy Williams’s early career experiences were to David’s (performing & recording at age 17!). Loved this quote:
      “As is really common, you change between 17 and 23,” she says. “My worldview changed a lot. What I was and wasn’t willing to do anymore changed a lot, and that caused a lot of friction within the label and eventually I asked out. I couldn’t do it anymore.”

      Also makes me appreciate how much harder it must be to have those growing pains and go through that period of self-discovery and trial and error with the whole world watching.

      • Heidijoy says:

        Thank you Tofan. Saw your tweet,so read the article. I see David following a similar path.
        Couldn’t help but think of their initial connection when she wrote for his first album and how things are working out since then. (Got a litttle gut ache when the writer said she has moved on from writing for Idol castoffs. David is hardly a cast off. ) I hope David works with her and her husband more. Still waiting for him to go back to Nashville. Maybe 2012.

      • TOfan says:

        I know what you mean Heidijoy, but I think that’s more an indicator of what the media (esp. the music media) thinks about Idol & reality show “talent” in general than David in particular (hope so anyway, lol).

        I thought that underlying that whole article was a deep respect for the fact that despite early breaks, both Joy & John Paul had to go back and start almost from scratch and pay their dues. Which is, I guess, exactly what David’s doing now.

  6. Heidijoy says:

    P.S, Should say Hoping vs waiting. It’s his path afterall.

    • Heidijoy says:

      I agree Tofan.( I get a little sensitive but think overall you are right) The article was great. Love how interconnected the path seems to be. Yes it seems to be what David is doing now.

  7. TOfan says:

    It’s up!!!!!!!!!!! Wooooooooooooooot! The lovely @nareejo’s interview with David!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  8. refnaf says:

    Great questions Naree!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Did he said producing??? He did…..
    ***goes to re-watch***

  9. Heidijoy says:

    11-11-11 Third Anniversary of DavidArchuleta Album. Congratulations to David.

    Let’s celebrate!

  10. peppertara says:

    That was an awesome interview from @nareejo! Finding what’s inside of him and just letting it flow, without the pressure, so glad he is in that ‘Good Place’ now. Good for David, gosh he has so many years up ahead. David wanting to produce, working on a MJ song…..wonderful!
    Love those beautiful videos from Ronald MacDonald House, heart melting and just gorgeous.
    Quite a special event and those sweet kids. ❤
    TOfan, this is such an interesting post, just catching up and reading it all through. Some very valid and spot on observations in that article, most interesting. Will have to read it again.
    With David's attributes, sincerest of hearts and his glorious voice, it will all carry him.

  11. refnaf says:

    Cool to hear David share about meeting MJ…. and maybe working on a cover **hopes for MKOCT**

    Hard to believe it has been 3 years…. I have to share his first performance of Crush>>> Ford Day!! and TOfan and I were there!!!
    What great memories!!!

    TOfan>> awesome poppy border
    #lestweforget

  12. TOfan says:

    aww, Ford Day *sniff* thanks Ref!

    One thing that struck me in @nareejo’s interview with D. (besides how happy & relaxed & expressive he was), was that he referred to himself in the third person when talking about finding his sound. “Who is David?” … he hasn’t done this in an interview in a while and I’ve always been curious about it. Thought this was an interesting explanation from Esquire magazine:

    “Elsa Ronningstam, associate clinical professor of psychology at Harvard Medical School: Referring to yourself in the third person creates distance between “I” and “he.” So … if you’ve achieved major success suddenly, using the third person could be a way to adjust to the bigger role that’s been assigned to you. It’s a way to enlarge yourself to fit that role.”

  13. Kizzi says:

    Great food for thought TOfan. Making commercially successful music appears to be a very fluid and rapidly changing landscape. Great advice to follow one’s intuition and heart rather than a formula.

    I found the last paragraph in the LDS Living article most intriguing – quintessential David. 😀

    “…Some of my decisions–both personal and professional–will be surprising people in the future. I hope people understand that whatever I do, I’m just trying to do what Heavenly Father has asked me to do.”

    Well, Mr. @DavidArchie, you have been making surprising-type of decisions since I first became acquainted with your music. No surprises that your faith is the wind beneath your wings.

    • TOfan says:

      lol, Kizzi, yes, quintessential David …leading up to that paragraph he says he knows the Heavenly Father wants him to do music, and to do it “this way,” his way … “You’re supposed to share what you’ve been given, right?” … works for me. 🙂

  14. peppertara says:

    Love all the food for thought here and the wonderful, insightful comments. David’s path sometimes reminds me of the beautiful writing “Desiderata” finding his place among the universe, incorporating peace, good will and a dedication to his own heart, his true self.
    Well, a happy 3rd anniversary for David’s awesome debut album! Hard to believe he was only 17 when he released that.
    Also on this day of 11/11/11 remembering all those who lost their lives. Never forgotten. ❤
    Hope everyone has a peaceful day today.

    • TOfan says:

      Thanks for that reminder, peppertara. I watched Ottawa’s Remembrance Day tribute on the big screen in our office lunch room this morning, standing in silence at 11:00 with everyone & sniffling away. So moving … esp. the closeups on the faces of those brave men and women remembering their fallen comrades and tough times.

  15. TOfan says:

    Here’s @nareejo’s recap to go along with her video interview with David above:

    http://chordsofd.wordpress.com/2011/11/10/an-interview-that-never-was/#comment-3

    • Heidijoy says:

      That is so cute and adds to the pleasure of the Video. JR has been encouraging her to share the interview. Both Fantastic organizers/fans.

      …………..and so are you Tofan…..Thanks

  16. refnaf says:

    kk. two things…..
    I just fell in love with “Everything and More”
    and TOfan rules
    That is all

    • TOfan says:

      you just fell for “Everything and More”????? That is breaking news! 😯 Enquiring minds need to know, live or studio version? What finally sold you on it???

    • refnaf says:

      hahah>Well, the studio version> it came up on my dpod and I hit repeat a few times…. the lyrics suddenly grabbed me….And after a few plays it got in my head… funny how sometimes a song really does take a while “to catch”

  17. refnaf says:

    oh one more thing…. that lead pic is awesome

    • abanana77 says:

      Agree! Hahaha I was on SAz on my friend’s computer (not a David fan at all haha) and she saw the lead picture and was like “huh… he looks good in black and white…” haha 🙂

  18. Another thought-provoking article, TOFan! Thanks for doing all of that work for your fellow fans. I also read Bob Lefsetz (also thanks to Jonerz!) and I can’t say how often his articles bring David to mind. I believe with all of my heart that David knows not only himself and his path, but also the music industry, better than I do and, dare I say, better than 99% of his fans. I leave that 1% because I figure he’s also got fans out there in the music world. 😉 I trust David. And he’s definitely won my devotion as a fan for as long as he wants to have me as a fan.

    Also adore Nareejo’s interview! David seemed very comfortable with her and she seemed very comfortable with her — and she asked great questions!

    • just came to check for news, saw my post and wanted to correct: last sentence should say “…she seemed very comfortable with HIM — and she asked great questions!”

      vvv great photo down there, by the way.

  19. TOfan says:

    David rehearsing for the skating thingie tonight (hope we get some skating footage again, lol), @DissonSkating twitpic):
    David Archuleta DissonSkating

    It might be possible to watch the livestream of the Pandora Skating event HERE … event starts 7 p.m. MST. (9 ET) … Update: @DissonSkating tweeted that there won’t be a livestream tonight … but acc. to @YukiSNYC (who tweeted from the rehearsal), David will be singing “What child is this, Silent Night, Pat a Pan, & a few others” wow, I thought he’d only do his usual skating-event two songs! 🙂

    @BrianBoitano tweeted this rehearsal pic tho’:
    Pandora rehearsal

  20. TOfan says:

    Somehow missed interview (looks like the same day as @nareejo’s) … and he mentions Joni Mitchell 🙂 🙂 🙂 :

    • No you didn’t miss it. This is a never-before-released interview sponsored by AstroPlus. They release it onlu during the GCT launch. And yes it was similar to the contest Naree won from Odyssey.

  21. Katheryn says:

    THE DAM NATION IDOL TOURNAMENT FINALE

    We have finally reached the finale of The Dam Nation Idol Tournament. It’s David vs. David. Imagine that!

    http://the-dam-nation.blogspot.com/

    There will be a total of 7 rounds (1 per day) with the winner of each round receiving a point. The one with the most points at the end of the week wins.

    Please vote every day. Thanks!

  22. She may kill for this but I can’t help it, i LOVE this vid message 🙂 which was shown during the GCTLaunch. We had tweeter fest teasing her last night!

    May I present Kricket, Archuleta Philippines (club & site) pioneer!

    Though she was able to watch the DALIM3 Concert, she was has never met David upclose. She lives in Davao City, a plane ride away from Manila. I wish that someday she gets to sit down to interview David.

    • TOfan says:

      JR, LOVE Kricket (& you of course! lol)… did not realize she’d never met David on his trips there (shows how clueless I am about the size of the Philippines!), I hope she gets that chance too!!! What a great video message! *sniff*

  23. Kathy Hagan says:

    What a great message by Kricket, who is so charming! Glad the Filipino fans are having so much fun with the GCT launch!

  24. TOfan says:

    Backstage photos tweeted last night by skater Michael Weiss & DissonSkating!
    Michael Weiss and David Archuleta

    David Archuleta and Kristi Yamaguchi

    @DouglasRazzano tweeted this pic of himself with David and @RachaelFlatt:
    David Archuleta with Rachael Flatt and Douglas Razzano

    …aaaaand @PlatinumArchie tweeted “@DavidArchie performed Pat-A-Pan.. but there is one I’ve never heard before… must google it! We don’t know anything about it!” 😯

  25. refnaf says:

    Love pics of David with Skaters….. someday David and hockey players must happen!!!! Is there a chance we may get vids??? prob not, eeeek> have to wait till it airs???

  26. TOfan says:

    New post/thread.

    🙂

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