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Here’s How Even Veteran Performers Can Stage a Digital Revival

Heritage acts like John Fogerty need a primer on the new biz landscape

John Fogerty has a new album out, “Wrote a Song for Everyone.” Here’s the way he should have done it.

1. EMAIL ADDRESSES

The Internet allows you to go direct. Why do you want to use a middle man?

Apple knows this. That’s why they built their own online store.

You want everybody to rally around you.

Used to be everybody rallied around the label. Yes, the gatekeepers, especially retail, had a relationship with the label. The acts didn’t especially matter, as long as something sold. Now you’ve got to step up and establish relationships yourself, which hopefully will last forever. As for retail, anybody can get on iTunes and Spotify. And if you’re not on Spotify, you’re reducing the chance of your music being sampled.

If you’re a heritage artist, you’ve got to start early, way in advance of the release of new material.

a. Email addresses … You need a clipboard at every gig. You need a song giveaway on your website in exchange for an email address. If you want to interact on a regular basis, do so, but it’s not necessary if you’ve already got a profile. But you must be able to push the button and reach your people when you’re ready.

b. Facebook … Have a presence there, especially if you’re an old act. People go to your website and Facebook, keep updating them with content, which will bring people back, so that when you do have something new to sell, they’ll see it, because they’re visiting.

c. Twitter … You want a high count. You can buy a starter base, so you don’t look like you’re nowhere, but the key is to grow it. Easiest way if you’re a star? Announce you’re going on Twitter and tweet up a storm for a week. You can lay off then, after you’ve gained all your followers. Almost nobody unfollows on Twitter.

2. ONE TRACK!

Since no one is interested in your new material, don’t overload us. An album is for hardcore fans anyway. But since your fans are antiques, and barely buy any new material, you’re gonna sell bupkes. Furthermore, it’s all about ticket sales anyway. You want your number to go up. So you want some new excitement, which motivates the oldsters to go and take their kids.

So you need one certifiable hit.

This may require you to write and record 10 or 20. It might be necessary to co-write. You might have to humble yourself, let other people hear your music and tell you what’s wrong with it, how it can be improved.

Since Fogerty came back once with “Centerfield,” he could probably do it again.

3. TARGET

If you’re going for radio …

The only thing that counts, that sells tonnage, is Top 40. The spectrum of music the format is playing is expanding, it’s not solely beat-driven drivel. If you want to be on Top 40, call the people who win there, maybe even use them. Whether it be Dr. Luke or Max Martin.

If you don’t want to play the Top 40 game, you’ve got to find the niche where your new music applies …

Maybe it’s television. Your new track has to be the signature sound of a station, not only featured in an episode of a drama. Make it the summer anthem of ESPN.

And don’t be afraid to think small, as long as it’s not TOO small …

You can be the NASCAR theme. The NHL theme. All those people talk, if you deliver, they will spread the word.

4. FROM THE BOTTOM UP

Your success depends upon the people. They’re gonna break your record, not the press. Press is a baby-boomer circle-jerk. The writers love you and you love showing your oldster friends the ink, but it doesn’t move the needle. Otherwise the biggest stars in music would be Kacey Musgraves and Jason Isbell, with loving pieces in the New York Times Magazine that barely moved the needle.

You’re better off doing Reddit than the Times.

5. DELIVERING

If Fogerty’s smart, he’ll use this covers album as a set-up. And release that one new hit song … soon. I’d say July 1, while there’s still some heat from the promo. Certainly no later than Sept. 1.

Then we’d be blown away.

Read more Bob Lefsetz columns at Lefsetz.com.

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