Lefsetz on young people & social networks

I’ve blogged here about Bob Lefsetz and his blog before. It’s completely “Inside Baseball” but for the music business. I very much enjoy his take on music and being in the music business in the world we live in today.

His post this week about young people really jumped out at me, because if you change the word music with college marketing or enrollment marketing, it still fits and they are critical points that I think we as web people get, and need to really make sure other people in our institutions get.

Here’s the whole post, which you should read, but here are two relevant bits that I think are very important.

Point being kids today are born into technology, they’ve got a natural facility. We oldsters, as adept as we may become, will always be a step behind. With children it’s instinct. The children are literally the future.

Oh, don’t blast me for using the cliche. Too many people use children as an excuse for their lame behavior today. My point, Herbie’s point, is that the kids will have the solutions. We can start the ball moving on music education, but the kids own the court.

and this. Emphasis is mine.

But more important is to note that solutions will come from this younger generation. Whilst oldsters go to lunch, play golf at the club, kids are coming up with solutions. Oldsters want a band that will be ubiquitous, that will rain down coin. It’s necessary to support the purveyors’ lifestyles. But kids are excited about music and the process first. The end result comes second. Or the end result doesn’t have to be today, it can be tomorrow, or the day after that. Kids are still dreamers, they haven’t had the optimism beaten out of them.

Today’s kids are the anti-baby boomers. Rather than striving for individual achievement, what’s most important is cohesion, being a member of the group. And it’s groups that will birth the future. You can’t have a successful act without an audience. And kids know how to grow said audience, and aren’t worried if at first it’s just thousands, and not millions. And kids today know how to use the new technology, how to stimulate and stay connected with these groups, that’s the social networking revolution. Instead of putting up barriers, preventing the free flow of both information and copyrighted material, they see easy conduits. They don’t believe information must be free, but they do believe everybody must have access to it.

So new methods of payment must be constructed. And the oldsters are penalized by their thinking, that starts with too many zeros. Kids today are interested in traction. And will jump to where the traction is on a whim, instantly, if their friends are there, if it’s appealing.

In other words, it’s about the audience, not marketing. Once a kid feels he’s being sold to… You’d better have an incredible product, like an iPhone. Otherwise, not only are they skeptical, they bad mouth you.