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The Grammy Telecast by Bob Lefsetz

The Grammy Telecast, by Bob Lefsetz

Bob LefsetzIt’s a mainstream show in a niche world, no wonder everybody is unhappy.

It’s no longer 1985, MTV does not rule and we do not live in a monoculture where everybody knows the same hits. The internet blew that paradigm apart, but the old media lions did not get the message. Recorded music lost half its value yet TV and film believe they’re immune. Thinking people respect their wares and execs are smart and the truth is we lived through the greatest disruption of our lifetimes and those in the arts still have not gotten the message.

The proletariat owns the arts. And when you try to falsely purvey to them they puke.

The truth is no one likes all the music sung on the Grammys.

And the show is playing to a theoretical audience that doesn’t exist. One in which we love everybody and everybody’s deserving of a trophy.

Whereas the truth is our nation has never been more divided in our lifetimes. And what music has done is to put its head in the sand. Selling the same sound over and over again. We’ve got the same damn spirit we had in 1969. The classic rockers are still traipsing the boards, country music is a pale imitation of what once was and rap has been ruling for so long, decades at this point, that one forgets that in the MTV era one sound replaced another every couple of years. Hair bands were replaced by grunge which was pushed aside by pop and hip-hop. Where’s the new sound today?

No wonder nobody cares.

But you’ve got a cheerleading media beholden to the labels so you’re told that music is healthy. Forget the business, music is on life support. Because the best and the brightest have abandoned it and everyone left in the building is solely about cash. Art is about speaking truth to power, where was the truth tonight?

Over on HBO, John Oliver was analyzing why Trump could get away with uttering falsehoods, why people believed them, what we could do about it.

And on CBS we had uneducated nitwits fawning over each other in duets as if we cared.

We don’t.

Trump is the biggest rock star extant today. Because he got everybody’s attention, and we live in an attention economy. Whereas most people avoid the Spotify Top 50 and you need a guidebook to listen to the music, you’ve got to be a history buff, it’s so self-referential.

Trump understands shock and awe. Something Andrew Loog Oldham and the Stones specialized in, remember when Mick and the boys were dangerous, and Alice Cooper perfected. The world was against Vince Furnier, except for his audience. And one of Vince’s big songs, after “Dead Babies” and “Under My Wheels,” never mind the angst of “I’m Eighteen,” was “Elected.” He made a joke of the ’72 election, which truly was. Who’s poking fun at the political shenanigans today?

Vince/Alice freaks out the public with a record shrouded in panties and today the goal is to sell your own panties or hoodies or perfume, anything the lemmings who listen will consume. What happened to art? Art is all about conception. Housing your album in a school desk, brilliant. Hooking up with Samsung, lowest common denominator.

Music is ripe for disruption. And said disruption will be something inimitable that appeals to everybody. A new sound that’s less niche and more mass. Kinda like Trump, a dividing line that got us all paying attention. The Donald, love ’em or hate ’em, but you can’t stop paying attention to him. And the truth is however much it might bug you, he won.

And CBS and the artists were afraid of the blowback. Imagine if someone did take a political stand, a swipe at the President on the show, it’d be front page news, it would spread like wildfire over the internet. Instead, Adele won another couple of awards. For an album that’s mediocre that wasn’t on streaming services. There you have the music industry in a nutshell. Mercenary, hocking second-rate products. Read the press and you’d think Adele was the next Beatles, listen to “25” and you were bored silly, you wanted to take it off. But we had to hear how great she was again and again again. The same way these same wankers told us Hillary was gonna win.

But no one can say no to being on the show. They think by reaching everybody they’ve won. When the truth is it just demonstrates they’re pawns in the game, tools of the system. Have a little self-respect. If duets were that popular they’d dominate the airwaves, and they don’t. And all the trappings, the dancers on stage, in what world does that really happen?

And the truth is TV is bad for you, your image, your career. This is not the grainy clips of yore, rather you’re broadcast in HD on the big screen and the end result is it makes you look small. Music is something you feel, and you feel it at the gig, not on TV. And first and foremost it’s something you listen to, but that paradigm left the building eons ago.

Who cares who wins these awards? Other than those on the undercard who are trolling for bio material, the truth is everybody forgets who won and the awards have no impact, kinda like awards shows themselves. Remember when we all live-tweeted, well, the music has stayed the same but we’ve moved on, we realize no one is listening, does anybody on stage realize most people watching really don’t care about them?

But we want something to care about, desperately. Give us some truth, sold with songs we can sing along to. We are your audience, not corporations. And no amount of hype will convince me any of the nominees were groundbreaking, one listen songs that will be repeated and listened to in the future. It’s all grist for the mill. Everybody’s shooting so low.

So you hated the show. Don’t feel so unique. EVERYBODY hated it. You stayed tuned in to see your favorite, but they were compromised and you winced. And what you want to do most is crank up your favorite tune and forget the whole thing.

The future will not be ruled by CBS, never mind the Grammys. Music has historically been the hottest of media, the fastest to react with the truth, via songs embodying the character of those singing them. Come on, is that new Katy Perry track disposable or what? Overworked, as they all are, with multiple writers and producers and beats, how about a bolt of inspiration transferred to wax that we can all relate to? Like Keith Richards dreaming of “Satisfaction,” singing it into a tape recorder by his bed and laying down the indelible riff that was inescapable way back when and still works today.

Art, especially music, is not about overlaboring, but pure inspiration, channeling the zeitgeist.

But there was no zeitgeist on television tonight, it was just a look in the rearview mirror.

And what scares me is today’s youth have never been alive when music pushed the needle, when it was ubiquitous, written by the artists channeling their truth.

We’ve got to get ourselves back to the garden.

And nowhere do I see a new Joni Mitchell, the woman who wrote that song.

I’ve been wowed by technology, astounded by politics and all the while…

Music has become a second-class citizen.

You ain’t gotta know how to sing, you ain’t gotta know how to play, you need to know how to capture lightning in a bottle and lay it down on tape. Some of the greatest records are poorly recorded. Many of the legendary players can’t read music. But they know art is about latching on to mood, laying down in sound that which you feel, so that others can resonate.

If you resonated with tonight’s show you must be Neil Portnow or Ken Ehrlich.

As for the rest of us, we were sitting there dumbfounded, if we were watching at all.

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New Year’s Eve Television by guest blogger Bob Lefsetz

New Year’s Eve Television

Who are these people??

Bob LefsetzIf you’re watching television in a linear fashion, using the clicker to bounce from station to station in real time…

You must be a baby boomer. Everybody else got the memo, that visual entertainment is an on demand medium. Something to be called up when you so desire. To the point that a lot of the detritus that flies by on the airwaves is unknown to most people. Like the talking heads on NBC’s year in review show.

How did I know it was NBC?

Because it was their talent and their talent only. I don’t get up early enough to watch the “Today Show,” but I am aware of the Savannah Guthrie/Matt Lauer shenanigans, and when I saw Al Roker too, I knew this was a branding exercise. Kinda sad if you think about it, kinda like the old football team getting back together and believing they’re still relevant, giving it one more college try before time passes them by.

But at least I knew who those people were. The rest of the commentators?

They looked like nothing so much as those people living in their parents’ basements bloviating for VH1. Remember when it was a badge of honor to appear on television? I do, but most of the younger generation does not. Used to be appearing on TV was for the chosen few, like a record deal, now there are so many outlets that everybody gets a chance, and almost nobody breaks through. America is about sales. And everybody on television is selling fame. Can’t anybody say no?

Equally as laughable were the countdown shows. The aforementioned NBC decided to go with a special edition of Seth Meyers’ late night program, the one with anemic ratings that almost no one watches. Howard Stern is the king of late night TV, and he’s on in the morning! But his show repeats all day long so those who care can catch up and in this bizarre media world it’s those who go on after eleven who get the ink, this is the same media that told us Hillary was gonna win, can we stop covering the irrelevant Jimmys?

And the hottest actress of today revealed herself to be an idiot. Never forget, actors read lines, at best they have chameleon-like abilities, assuming they’ve got any talent at all. But as bad as Jennifer Lawrence was, Seth Meyers’ interviewing skills were even worse. He was uptight. Conversation is a skill. Which the late night hosts seem to have forgotten, ever since David Letterman skewed these shows towards comedy. And Meyers’ opening news bits were funny, but a younger Seth Meyers would be poking fun at himself for doing the same SNL shtick more than a decade on.

So we flipped the channel to see Ryan Seacrest, he without personality, hosting an affair with fake enthusiasm featuring talent most of us had never heard of.

I live in a bubble. I watch almost no television. But when I get into a room with a bunch of people and even the young ‘uns don’t know the hit songs, I’m convinced the model is broken. Even the biggest musical acts are niche. We think we’re still living in the MTV era, when if you’re on that channel everybody knows your name, but today no one knows most of the names, but if you admit this you’re castigated as an out-of-it pariah, who made these people the hipster police? Wear your alienated personality, fly your oblivious freak flag high, you’ll find you’re with the masses, that media keeps shoveling this crap as if anybody cares when the truth is…

These shows were not made for you. Come on, if you can drive, if you’re of college age or above, and you’re home watching these countdown shows the joke is on you. They skew young, kids who are locked inside with no options are the audience. But having been taken prisoner last night…

The recognizable were not so. I kept arguing that couldn’t be Jenny McCarthy, until someone on screen mentioned her name. I kinda get the boob implants which kickstarted her career. I wish it weren’t so, but media is run by old geezers impressed by hooters so it got her a leg up. But what has she done to herself now? Was it the lip implants? The cheek implants? Trying to look beautiful, she became anonymous, kinda like those plastic surgery freaks Jennifer Grey and Leeza Gibbons before her. Own what you’ve got, you’re unique, it’s your identity. And if this is the game you’re playing, to fit the looks and mores of television, you’ve lost the plot.

And Kathie Lee… I couldn’t tell it was her either!

But back to Ryan Seacrest. At least Dick Clark built that edifice, he had a right to host it. But Ryan’s like a record exec who never owned his own label, who never had his own money at risk. We give you a pass in the U.S. if you sit atop something you created. But caretakers? No way! As for Carson Daly… He’s too old. Yes, I might be ageist, but it would be one thing if Carson had any talent to begin with, and he doesn’t!

And speaking of talent…

One act after another came out and lip-synched and looked small.

But they could not turn down the opportunity, the exposure.

I don’t know what comes first, a clarification of who is really a star or a willingness of performers to say no. I enjoyed Mike Posner, but his heartfelt song “I Took A Pill In Ibiza” went by in a blur leaving no one but me satisfied. Thomas Rhett did three songs, ably, but he looked like a two-dimensional cartoon character trying to sell us breakfast cereal.

I give props to Alicia Keys, for her anti-makeup stance. But a young woman in attendance said Alicia was very brave. Which got me to thinking, if you were not beautiful could you take this risk? But one thing’s for sure, Ms. Keys is the purveyor of second-rate material, another vaunted star who doesn’t shine so bright but is anointed by the media so we are supposed to believe.

At least Fifth Harmony makes no bones about appealing to the still-developing youngsters. As for Panic! At The Disco…where’s the panic? Another B level act trying to stay in the game.

Which brings us to Mariah Carey. The evening’s designated train-wreck.

She delivered, that’s what you can count on her for. She’s long surrendered the crown of talent, that famous voice and range. Too many times she’s sung poorly live or not at all, tracks being her friend and last night…

Was a new low.

This is where we are folks. When you drop the mic, not caring that the fakery is being revealed. This is Ashlee Simpson on steroids. Now the media-industrial complex just thinks we at home are brain dead and if you see the face and hear the record that is enough. Then again, these are the same networks that sell us singing shows that don’t mint stars. But all the contestants want to be Mariah Carey, and the woman herself…is a complete joke!

How much further down this path can we go? Where pretty faces who can’t sing front songs about nothing? Music has abdicated its power. Who amongst today’s purveyors could be nominated for a Nobel decades hence? Damned if I know.

So…

The mainstream has become a sideshow.

That’s the story of 2016. How the puffed-up media that thought it ruled did not.

Fox News couldn’t kill Trump. It capitulated. And then its head, Roger Ailes, was ousted.

The “New York Times” assured us Hillary Clinton was gonna win, and then she didn’t.

And Viacom, the keeper of the TV hipster flame, continued to go down the tubes, most people believe it cannot be saved, Les Moonves didn’t want to merge it with CBS and be taken down the drain.

And “Rolling Stone” is now a pamphlet.

We are seeing a passing of the torch. From old media to new.

And the old media doesn’t like it.

The old media keeps excoriating Mark Zuckerberg, as if Americans were nincompoops who could not tell false from true and Facebook is more influential than any outlet with perceived gravitas. First and foremost, fake news did not sway the election, it just reinforced beliefs already extant. But I will say…people find Facebook more entertaining than television. It’s personalized, it’s about real people. I mean what would you even say to Jenny McCarthy? You got tons of people not to vaccinate their kids and now you’ve sliced and diced your face in a vain attempt to hold on to a smidge of stardom? And Ryan Seacrest is just a vessel, with no thoughts of his own. He’ll be anything you want him to be, just like the rest of today’s perceived “stars,” who care about fame more than art.

And what was up with those gloves? I kept hearing how cold it was in NYC but my Dark Sky app said it was 41, positively balmy for a New Year’s Eve. If you can’t even get the temperature right, why should I believe you on the real issues?

But the truth is no one’s home. No one’s in control. Not only are we not paying attention, those in charge don’t realize this. Advertisers keep pouring dollars into television because they don’t trust the online metrics yet the “Wall Street Journal” rates the commercials and I’ve seen almost none of them!

But if you’re pissed off about the above…

You’ve got the wrong perspective. We won. We killed the mainstream media. We stopped paying attention. We go online for our news and we want it immediately. We don’t want to be teased about what’s coming up, just give us the facts.

And the fact is next year there’s no way I’m staying home on New Year’s Eve.

I’m going out for dinner with friends and if the action fades I’ll turn the lights out, long before the ball drops.

Because I know and you know it can be New Year’s Eve any night of the year. We toppled Black Friday, everybody got the memo that Amazon is not only cheap every day, oftentimes it’s cheaper than the day after Thanksgiving!

We’ve become unmoored from convention. We have it our way every damn day.

And that’s great.

Now we’ve just got to clear some of the dead wood out of the way. It’ll happen. There will come a time when there will be no more of these shows.

And I can’t wait.

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Mark Sonder Awarded Emeritus Status for Being a Certified Special Events Professional

Mark Sonder Awarded Emeritus Status for Being a Certified Special Events Professional

Sonder Joins an Elite Group of 38 Worldwide

entertainment agency for meetings and conventionsMark Sonder, Chief Entertainment Officer at the award winning entertainment agency Mark Sonder Productions, Inc. has just been awarded Emeritus status on being a Certified Special Events Professional.

“The Emeritus title is reserved for event professionals who have achieved and maintained the CSEP credentials and who have provided continued support and commitment to the evolution of the events profession,” stated the Certification Committee of the International Special Events Society to Mark Sonder on being granted Emeritus CSEP certification status which is effective immediately. His reply, “This is a great way to cap off my company’s 30th Anniversary Year.”

Although not retired, as an emeritus designee, Sonder has permanent CSEP status and remains an active participant in an elite group of event professionals who value the advancement of the events industry.

Sonder, in his 3 decades in the meeting and event industries has always and will still be expected to uphold the highest standards of performance and professionalism that the CSEP designation represents. Mark was one of the first 17 people in the world to earn his CSEP commencing in 1993 in Toronto, Canada. There are only 38 other people in the world who have been awarded Emeritus status.

CSEP Certified Special Events Professional 202-369-1063Mark Sonder, MM, CSEP with his 30 year old firm, Mark Sonder Productions Entertainment Agency has sent artists to perform globally. From India to Lithuania, from The Philippines to Brasil. From Bermuda, and of course from sea to shining sea.

To book your music, entertainment and or production for your next event, call on Mark Sonder, MM, CSEP!

Contact:
msonder@marksonderproductions.com 
http://marksonderproductions.com 
+1-540-636-1640

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Mark Sonder Productions 30th Anniversary Celebration Continues…

A 30th Year Anniversary Special from Mark Sonder Productions Entertainment Agency

Tito Puente Jr. Y Su Orquesta

TitoPuente4Mark Sonder, MM, CSEP and the Chief Entertainment Officer at the award winning worldwide entertainment agency Mark Sonder Productions, Inc. is proud to announce a public concert series to take place at The Bethesda Blues & Jazz Supper Club, located just outside of its nation’s capital.

The Drifters were the first headliner my company booked, oh so many years ago, opening up for Dionne Warwick at Ft. Adams State Park in Newport, RI for 10,000 people, so it was fitting to have them return as the first band to help celebrate our 30ieth Year Anniversary last month in Bethesda,” said Sonder recently at one of the many professional trade association meetings which his company belongs to.

Sonder’s company continues its 30th Anniversary bringing in Latin’s own Tito Puente Jr. Y Su Orquesta at The 500 seat Bethesda Blues & Jazz Supper Club on Friday night April 17, 2015. (It will be a very special evening as his father’s birthday is April 20).  “Tito is relevant to our anniversary as he continues the renowned Tito Puente brand and has expanded it to now include more formats of Latino music plus has appeared on Dancing With the Stars performing ‘Oye Como Va’ which is the song written by his father, the legendary Latin jazz and mambo musician in 1963 and popularized by Santana’s rendition of the song in 1970,” states Sonder.  Sonder himself, a media veteran who has appeared on radio, television and in a major motion picture knows the power of a major TV program.

This is the second in a series of special musical presentations set up by Mark Sonder Productions at this wonderful supper club.  Other shows you see later this season will be: JoDee Messina, Lee Greenwood, Mary Wilson of the Supremes, The Outlaws, Crystal Gayle, Rare Earth, The Hit Men, Leon Russell, Larry Carlton, Blackhawk, and many more during the company’s 30ieth year celebration.

Tickets for Tito Puente Jr. Y Su Orquesta are on sale at the Bethesda Blues & Jazz Supper Club box office or purchase online before they sell out.  

sonder-logo2About Mark Sonder Productions Entertainment Agency:

Created in 1985 to fill a growing need for music, entertainment, speakers, headline entertainers and supportive production in corporate and association meetings, conventions and special events plus facilities, casinos and concerts, the company in its 30 years, has worked in the US, Canada, Mexico, Bermuda, South America, Europe and Southeast Asia.

Contact: +1-540-636-1640 or msonder(at)marksonderproductions(dot)com

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Three Decades Strong

Mark Sonder Productions, Inc. Three Decades Strong

International Music Agency Celebrates Its 30 Year Anniversary

Mark Sonder Productions 540-636-1640Mark Sonder, MM, CSEP and the Chief Entertainment Officer of the award-winning international music agency Mark Sonder Productions, Inc. is proud to announce his company has met another milestone–its doors have been open for 30 (thirty) uninterrupted years. Three Decades Strong. “We feel very blessed that the industry has continued to support us for 30 years and continues to do so,” stated Sonder.

Sonder, who worked as a musician in the bands of the late Frank Sinatra, the late Sammy Davis Jr., Tony Bennett, Cher, Linda Ronstadt and Burt Bacharach, amongst many others. His horn can be heard in the first six Diet Coke TV commercials as well as the infamous National Geographic theme. Sonder, with his company, has gone on to acquire and produce artists for meetings, events, concerts and casinos, including: Tony Bennett, Joan Jett & The Blackhearts, Blondie, Randy Crawford, Blood Sweat & Tears, John Mayer, Eddie Money and many others.

Commencing operations in 1985 as a sole proprietorship in New York City, Mark Sonder Productions, Inc. has expanded and matured into a national leader and pioneer in its many “firsts” in the event entertainment industry over its first 3 decades. First started from a one-bedroom apartment on the upper west side of Manhattan before the internet, to a company that acquired New York City’s premier Event and Destination Management Company, has had its musicians in major motion pictures, to being asked by producers of a major talent reality TV program to recommend talent, Mark Sonder Productions has booked headline entertainment in a number of continents around the globe where meetings are convened via video calls, Mark Sonder Productions, Inc. remains not only relevant today but is in demand for its talent buying knowledge and experience.

Mark Sonder Productions 540-636-1640This year will find the company, with its new website, continuing its leadership brand in obtaining local/regional and headline entertainment for meetings and conventions; booking 5-6 public dates per month in dinner clubs; getting the rights to advertise, book and promote the band “The Drifters” (NOT a tribute band); while Mark Sonder, MM, CSEP creator and senior music agent has joined yet another faculty instructing Event Marketing. Of course Mr. Sonder has literally written the book for the industry entitled, “Event Entertainment and Production,” and continues to be a subject matter expert while also being a Lecturer in Tourism Studies at The George Washington University.

So what are you waiting for?  Call on Mark Sonder Productions, Inc. and see what Mark can do for you! http://marksonderproductions.com Contact: +1-540-636-1640 or msonder@marksonderproductions.com 

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