Doors/Chuck Taylor Sneaks Dust-Up!

 

Much ado about a pair of cool sneakers…

 

By
Fred Mills

 

 

Here
at BLURT we occasionally poke our heads out of our cubicle, glance around, and
notice, uh, stuff goin’ on in the world of music. Among that stuff: the fact
that the Doors recently partnered with Converse 
to license their name/logo to the shoemaker’s iconic Chuck Taylor brand
of sneakers. Similar deals have also been struck in the recent past by the
Grateful Dead, Nirvana and the Ramones, so it didn’t seem completely out-of-the-blue
that the Doors would joint that multi-generational roll-call in finding a new
marketing wrinkle.

 

 

Fans
of all four bands have vigorously debated the pros, the cons, the idealism and
the reality of what’s going on when a beloved artist works up a licensing deal,
of course; it just goes with the territory.

 

So
yesterday, industry gadfly/commentator Bob Lefsetz, who we’ve quoted in this
space before, posted his latest “Lefsetz Letter” in which he took the Doors
organization to task for what he perceived, as a certain percentage of Doors
fans no doubt also perceive, as selling out and trampling on his memories. You
can read it at his site, but we’re posting the screed – along with some
intriguing followup material – below as well.

 

***

 

From
Bob Lefsetz:

 

It’s bad enough that “Rolling
Stone” has morphed into “Esquire” for a slightly younger
generation, with a perfect binding that makes it impossible to fully grasp
Angus Young’s mug, he looks like some origami trick from the back cover of
“MAD”, but what had me blowing chunks was the ad four pages into the
magazine…  “THE DOORS INSPIRED
CHUCK TAYLOR”.

 

Are you fucking kidding me?  I thought that John Densmore had a lock on
this kind of shit.  Or maybe that was
just the band’s music.  Their image…

 

I love the Doors.  Their first album was transcendent.  But I’ve never ever owned a pair of Chuck
Taylors.  I’m just not a Converse kind of
guy.  To tie up the Doors with Chuck
Taylor is like hooking up Metallica with Maypo. 
What’s next, the Stones for Stride-Rite?

 

Shit, is there no commercial opportunity
these bands won’t turn down?  The concept
of legacy has been completely forgotten. 
But, a great band’s music never will be. 
Isn’t that the lesson of AC/DC, that despite refusing to whore
themselves out, endorse products, feature their music in commercials, they own
the second biggest selling catalog?

 

Respect the music.

 

But no one buys that anymore.  Our whole country has lost its dignity.  As Ray Davies once sang, money talks and
we’re the living proof.

 

If you’re educated, you’re an elitist.  You should be working a blue collar job like
a real American, not prepared for change that might come down the pike, and
about to be fired because the man shipped your job overseas.  Forced to buy all your goods at the big box
store known as Wal-Mart that raped your city’s downtown and replaced reasonable
jobs with low-paying gigs akin to those in a jail.  Not as guards, but as PRISONERS!

 

Has the Doors music been forgotten?  What caused the last renaissance, twenty five
years ago?  When suddenly everybody
wanted to listen to “The End”. 
There was no advertising then, just WORD OF MOUTH!

 

God, does the Vatican have to do a deal for the
Sistine Chapel?  To make sure people
continue to come?  Too bad Picasso’s
dead, otherwise he could be hawking scarves for Target.  Hell, couldn’t they do one of those ads where
they take footage and he appears with his daughter Paloma?  Just because the body’s cold doesn’t mean you
can’t make some money on it.

 

And did Jim Morrison even OWN a pair of
sneakers?  Never mind Chuck Taylors?  I remember him dressed in black.  The Ramones were big on canvas shoes, but not
the rockers of the sixties.

 

But Chuck Taylor’s got a lot of bread.  They want to make the brand cool.  And their advertising agency likes the
Doors…  I mean who’s cooler than Jim
Morrison?  So you make an offer of
beaucoup bucks and the only person who gets fucked in the ass is the fan.  I respect the act.  I’m not whoring myself out.  How do you expect me to buy music if I can’t
respect it?

 

What’s next?

 

Come on… 
Can’t John Lennon sell glasses?

 

Or maybe that’s Buddy Holly’s purview.

 

And if the Doors are in danger of being
forgotten, how about Sinatra?

 

If the music is great, it’ll last
forever.  And that’s why classic rock
endures.  Because of its greatness.

 

The Doors might not sell quite the tonnage
of AC/DC, but that’s because their music is cerebral.  It’s for people who want to delve a bit
deeper, who want to think.  It’s a rite of
passage for those who read Vonnegut and Hesse in high school as opposed to
dropping out and working at the 7-11. 
You’re not even aware of the Oedipus complex unless you finish high
school…  How are you supposed to
comprehend “The End”?

 

But now that you’ve seen the band has
aligned with Chuck Taylor, you’re gonna check ’em out.  You’re gonna buy all those albums because the
band inspired sneakers, if you can stomach that bullshit.

 

Don’t tell me that things have changed.  These are my memories, this is my life.  You can make a ton of dough and lose it all
in the market, seemingly overnight.  But
it takes a lifetime to build memories. 
Respect them.  They pay dividends.  Not only monetary, but emotional.  And that’s what we are, not the sum of our
toys, but our experiences, our moods, our memories, our histories.  Great music is not only part of our identity,
it IMPACTS our identity.  We respect
artists who are grasping for greatness, who want to get it right, who want to
say something as opposed to cashing the check.

 

Jim Morrison might be six feet under, but
he’s alive and well in my mind.  Long
live the Lizard King!

 

 

***

 

So
Lefsetz gets a lot of letters, many of them from industry folks who sometimes
agree with him and sometimes don’t. Typically, he’ll post some  of the more interesting responses, as he did
with the Doors responses. Among them were emails from original Doors manager
Bill Siddons and the head of the Doors old record company Elektra, Jac Holzman.
The former appeared to not be bothered by the Chuck Taylor matter, while the latter
tended to take a more purist view:

 

 

From
Bill Siddons:

 

 

Remember it was John Densmore who turned
down something like $12 million for the use of “break on through” in
the Cadillac commercial for exactly the reasons you espouse. Don’t be too hard
on him!

 

You know as well as anyone that it’s almost
impossible to find ways to keep your deep catalog artists in the public view,
and Jeff Jampol has continually come up with ways to do that for the doors. It
sometimes crosses the line but if you never try anything you won’t find
out.   I got to admit that when I was in
the store at the art museum and found a wide selection of Picasso and Dali
coffee mugs, kites, T-shirts etc. I found it a little hard to take just as I do
half of the things that are done to leverage artists good reputations.  But those cheap posters and mugs may actually
make the newbie seek out the original in the art museum!

 

Oh, by the way, what caused the renaissance
for the doors 25 years ago was the release of Jim Morrison’s poetry album,
“An American Prayer” and us presenting it to the industry through 22
playback parties around the country so they listened to it from start to
finish.  It is purity and the power of
Jim’s poetry that caused a whole new generation to bring the doors music into
their life and by the way probably got Francis Ford Coppola to use “the
end” in Apocalypse Now,  and Warner
books to say yes to buying Jim’s biography etc. etc.  It starts with art, but reaches the masses
through marketing.

 

-Bill Siddons

 

 

From
Jac Holzman:

 

Bob – I appreciate the forward of the email
from Doug Aitken. I’ve written him about The Doors and asked him, kindly of
course, not to add any more years to my already acquired seventy-seven (77).

 

You’re absolutely right. There is no need
for tie-in marketing. It really doesn’t help The Doors, whose legacy and
emotional currency is assured and validated by time and timelessness. And it
doesn’t “move product.”

 

BTW, The Doors resurgence in 1979-1980
traces directly to the opening sequences of Apocalypse Now, in which Martin
Sheen unravels as a result of his inner ghosts and the destructive tug of Vietnam.
That scene and the mood of The End were indelibly mated. It was an unbelievable
moment when the war became visceral once again.

 

All best – Jac Holzman

 

 

***

 

Fair
enough. Both men have their opinions and, like Lefsetz, are entitled to them.
Then current Doors manager Jeff
Jampol responded, and his lengthy commentary provided one of the most revealing
dissections about what really goes in to licensing and marketing deals,
particular involving so-called “heritage” acts like the Doors. Regardless of
what your own opinion may be, Jampol’s letter really pulls the veil back and
gives you a front row seat at what we might call a theoretical business meeting
among members of a band.

 

His
Obama sign-off tag is pretty cool, too.

 

 

From
Jeff Jampol:

 

 

Hi, Bob:

 

As The Doors’ manager, I thought I’d take a
stab at weighing in after reading your interesting commentary.

 

First off, let me state for the record that
I am clearly biased here and in no way objective – The Doors pay me, and when
The Doors make money, I make money. Their legacy is not mine, though I AM hired
to promote it, protect it, monetize
it, guide it, and keep it alive for the NEXT generation as WELL as their
current (and past) fans. On the one hand, I am supposed to find ways to make
them money. On the other hand, I am supposed to protect their legacy. And,
finally, I am to promote their name,
their music, and their message to the new generations coming up – and as we all
know, marketing to existing fans, and an older fanbase, is MUCH, MUCH different
than marketing to a newer generation of young fans, to whom The Doors are a new
band and a “new idea.” We must do BOTH, and although they have a lot
of overlap, they are separate tasks, and are done in differing ways. Makes for
a heady brew of conflict!

 

It is many times because of this inherent
conflict in what we are trying to do that occasionally we will cross lines and
upset some folks. Sometimes rightly, sometimes wrongly, and sometimes people
seem to get upset whenever they see change of any kind. Our job here is to try
and discern what they’re really upset about, take a look at it, and see if we
are wrong, if they’ve raised valid issues, if we’ve taken a misstep, or if we
are rightly hewing true to what we believe. Many times, the points raised have
validity and help us to become better, smarter humans, as well as better
“keepers of the flame.”

 

I have read your comments, and I want to try
and shed a little light on how I look at this – hopefully, you will try to be
as open-minded as I am trying to be, and together, we can reach some kind of
consensus — or not, I guess. It is ultimately up to each individual to
embrace The Doors’ legacy as well as their music and message the best way he or
she sees fit, and if everyone agreed with us (or me), I probably wouldn’t be
doing my job!

 

In this case, the music had nothing to do
with this. We are not USING Doors music, just, as you had written, the image
(or, name and likeness, as we hoary businessmen say), so let’s be clear what we
are discussing – and we are NOT discussing the use of The Doors’ music.

 

You invoke John Densmore’s name in your
letter, and I think it’s pretty obvious to many that John Densmore is
completely passionate and devoted to his particular beliefs and the way he
approaches the issues at hand. John and I have had MANY “spirited
discussions” about matters pertaining to promoting
the Doors’ legacy, and I must say, I love and respect John immensely – he truly
walks like he talks, and I have seen him, time and again, sacrifice personal
comfort, ease, dollars, and serenity in order to stand up for what he believes
in, not only in business, but in his personal life, and not only for The Doors,
but for ANY cause or issue with which he is involved.

 

You asked in your letter, “What caused
the last renaissance, twenty five years ago? 
When suddenly everybody wanted to listen to ‘The End’.  There was no advertising then, just WORD OF
MOUTH!” And you are correct when you say there was no advertising, per se,
but there WAS a major motion picture, Oliver Stone’s “The Doors”. The
release of that movie tripled The Doors’ catalogue sales at the time.
Terrestrial radio was also THE major factor in exposing music to new
generations, and we had RECORD STORES to go browse in, hang out in, and
salivate over the newest releases – sadly, as you reported on in an earlier
letter, these stores have disappeared and been somewhat replaced by Apple
stores – where music is not the product they are selling. So, we have none of
these tools available to us anymore – sadly.

 

Now, down to the issue of Converse shoes and
The Doors. Perhaps we have overstepped here (I couldn’t resist the pun), and
perhaps we have not. Let’s take a look at how I see it, as I have already read
how YOU see it. Let me explain what I see as a few factual circumstances, and
let’s also get down to the philosophical issues at hand.

 

First off, we see the music and the name
somewhat differently – they are BOTH important to us, but to me, there are
degrees of sanctity, if you will, when it comes to marketing and promoting The Doors’ legacy: the most sacrosanct
thing that exists is the music. Next in this hierarchy is Jim’s poetry (which
is owned by the Morrison successors), then the name “The Doors,”
followed by the photos and images, and last but not least, the individual
members themselves.

 

The Doors decided long ago (way before MY
time) that apparel was an acceptable category in which to license The Doors’
name, and acceptable to market, sell and promote,
not only to enhance their legacy, but to make a profit as well (we like to do
that – we are not a nonprofit organization). I’m told that some of The Doors
also felt that we were being bootlegged so rampantly all over the world, and so
much crappy stuff was out there, that they AND their fans would be better
served by at least trying to put quality merchandise out there for fans to buy,
and to also capture some of the millions that was being unfairly pocketed
regardless by outsiders and fly-by-night, substandard bootleggers trading
unfairly and illegally on The Doors’ name.

 

Some of what The Doors ultimately permitted
to be manufactured, I disagreed with – and some, I stopped, discontinued, or outright
denied.

 

A few examples? Although The Doors did
Christmas ornaments, and several folks I know own them and apparently like
them, I personally found them to be demeaning, and not in the spirit (excuse
the pun again) of these “Erotic Politicians,” and I so advised The
Doors (again, that’s my job). There was a “Light My Fyre! ”
action-figure doll, which I found particularly repugnant (it pained me just to
write that out), and many other categories, like cheap belt buckles, cheap
calendars (note the word “cheap”: it’s there for a reason), lizard
this-‘n-that, feather earrings, etc. I could go on and on here – ugly incense
holders, a disgusting purple plastic-topped Lava Lamp-like table lamp, a Jim
action-figure doll (but not the Todd McFarland one, which is cool, to us),
tawdry tapestries (??!), magnets, and even bobbleheads! I mean, c’mon! How does
one make a logical connection between “Soul Kitchen” and a
BOBBLEHEAD??!? In fact, when I first came on board, one of our first actions as
a management team was to terminate deals for over 150 items – all of which had
already been approved, wittingly or unwittingly, by The Doors. We then
terminated about the same amount of apparel items and designs as being hoary,
uncool, stupid, ugly, demeaning, cheap, and usually some combination of these
horrible attributes. We disapprove and/or terminate WAY more than we ever
approve.

 

As you can see, though, a lot of this is a
judgment call – one man’s hoary, uncool trinket is another man’s prize…and so
be it. We have to stay true to OUR vision, and I know we will not be in
agreement with everyone – in fact, I often disagree with The Doors themselves,
and we will all argue about it, talk it out, discuss, etc., but in the end, it
is THEIR legacy, and I am happy to carry out whatever they direct me to move
forward with.

 

So, we decided – GENERALLY (there can always
be exceptions) – that some of the apparel categories we were okay with selling
were: t-shirts, messenger bags, sweatshirts, shoes, outerwear/jackets, jeans, cycling
jerseys, beanies, caps, belts, higher-end belt buckles, cool
dress/tunic/overshirts for women (like the Trunk ones we did), leather jackets,
and denim shirts.

 

I could be mistaken here, but I think the
only categories we haven’t done yet are shoes, leather jackets, and jeans –
there may be more. So, when this opportunity came along with Converse, we took
a look at it. There is only ONE “first time” you can do something,
and to me, the first time has to really count – we didn’t want to do something
half-assed (I was gonna say “slipshod,” but I thought three puns was
too many in one diatribe). You speak about AC/DC and insinuate that their
marketing is more on point with respect to legacies – yet I believe AC/DC has
done way more merchandise and retail items than The Doors EVER have! How is it
that a t-shirt or a skateboard deck is cool, bit a sneaker somehow ISN’T??

 

Before I go further, here’s some insight and
knowledge about how the merchandise business works: ALL of the items we do for
The Doors – whether it’s a t-shirt, Converse shoes, a messenger bag, or Doors
posters – are NOT items WE make, or have made, they are LICENSES. The Doors DO
NOT manufacture anything – we never have. I don’t know any major artists who
do. We’re not in the manufacturing business – apparel manufacturers are. We
don’t DO “Doors T-Shirts” – we LICENSE the name “The
Doors”, via our merchandising reps, to a t-shirt brand, or to a t-shirt
vendor, who then manufactures them (or sources a manufacturer), and then sells
them under their own brand name to retail, where you buy them, same as AC/DC,
The Beatles, or any other major band. Even when a band is on tour (this again
applies to bigger bands), the artists are not MANUFACTURING those shirts you
buy at their gigs – they have LICENSED their band name and their tour
merchandising rights to a merchandising company, who have their OWN brand of
t-shirts – that merch company then goes out on the road with the artist and
sets up merch tables, selling their (the company’s) t-shirts with the artists’
name on them.

 

When manufacturers want to license The
Doors’ name to make a piece of Doors apparel for retail sale, we assure
complete approval rights over every key aspect of the apparel: Which company is
manufacturing the piece, what the item is (a t-shirt or a messenger bag), the
design, the images used, the garment itself, where it’s distributed, how much
it sells for, and how long it’s available. That way, we can insure that the
item stays in keeping with the level of quality and the image of The Doors. If
we don’t approve the final sample, it doesn’t get made. Period.

 

I have spent virtually ALL of this year
(2008) terminating almost ALL Doors licenses, in every category, and completely
pulling The Doors OUT of the mass-market (Target, K-Mart, etc.) altogether. We
don’t belong there right now, I don’t think. We WERE there, for certain and
specific reasons I can’t get into (business stuff), but 2008 has been, for us,
a year of retrenchment and “giving the name a rest.” We don’t ever
want to be TOO ubiquitous, and I think part of the magic of The Doors is that
they are a bit special, and above the fray, and not TOO common. We don’t WANT
to be everywhere – I would like to see us as kind of exclusive. So, for 2008,
we have done nothing but pull all Doors items OFF of the market.

 

We want to come back in 2009 (well, starting
at Christmas 2008) with a whole new line: all-new designs, higher quality,
finer garments, some better/different/rarer images, different categories (like
maybe the shoes and jeans we’ve never done), and new retail outlets.

 

Which leads me back to Converse.

 

I think one of the things people may be
having a problem with is that they see the Converse/Doors shoes as somehow
selling out, or us putting OUR name on THEIR shoe. But this is what we do for
EVERY SINGLE PIECE OF DOORS MERCHANDISE THAT HAS EVER BEEN PRODUCED. There is
no difference here, other than the category of apparel – we HAVE licensed The
Doors name, for t-shirts and belt buckles (and many other items), but not for
shoes. The only other difference I see here is that I think you perhaps view it
differently because Converse has brand name recognition on its own, as opposed
to companies like, say, “Liquid Blue”, “Winterland”, or
“Junk Food”, who are some of our past t-shirt manufacturers/vendors.

 

True Religion made Doors sweatshirts, yet
THEY have brand name recognition apart from The Doors – Trunk made Doors
t-shirts, and Winterland made Doors t-shirts, hats and jackets, yet THEY have
brand name recognition (albeit more limited) apart from The Doors.

 

The only difference here is that Junkfood
sold  Junkfood-branded shirts that said
“The Doors” on them, Winterland sold Winterland-branded shirts, hats
and jackets that said “The Doors” on them, and Converse will be
selling Converse-branded shoes that say “The Doors” on them. And, I
guess, that Converse is more well-known than Junkfood or Winterland. All of
them also sell plenty of apparel with NO name on them except their own. (Though
I am sure that Converse sells more than Junkfood or Winterland).

 

So, some take the position that it is okay
to put The Doors name on a piece of merchandise as long as the brand of
merchandise is small and/or unknown? Or is it sneakers/shoes in general? Or
Converse in particular? Or ALL merchandise in general? Or just
“successful” brands of apparel? Or is everything verboten except for
t-shirts? Or are THEY verboten now, too?

 

Some of these positions seem a tad
inconsistent – and I think part of the confusion may be that you are/were not
aware of how the merchandising business really works. In fact,
“merchandising” is a misnomer – it’s really a licensing business
(which is why I went to such great pains to elucidate everything above).

 

One last word about Converse as a
manufacturer, as a licensee, and shoes as a category of apparel – we considered
all of the following:

 

*I look at shoes, t-shirts, jeans and
leather & denim jackets as the “four corners” of the American
rock ‘n roll wardrobe, if there is such an animal. Think James Dean in Rebel
Without A Cause as the archetype. If one is okay with t-shirts, why not the
other three items? It doesn’t seem to really make sense. True, we haven’t done
shoes or jeans yet, but why not? Is there something intrinsically RIGHT with
t-shirts but WRONG with leather jackets? Or sneakers? But that’s okay for metal
die-cast cars? Is there something here that violates a tenet of The Doors as a
name, or as a band? Surely jackets have been synonymous with rock bands since
the ’70s at least! [ed. note: at LEAST we’re not making satin tour jackets]

 

*Sneakers ARE cool, to me, as an item of
apparel. As well as being one of the above “four corners” of rock
apparel that I mentioned above.

 

*Converse HAS been associated with rock ‘n
roll. True, more so with bands like The Ramones or Nirvana, but I kinda feel
like that’s credible company (again, a judgment call, for sure). And they are
doing/have done FOUR of these sneaker lines: The Doors, The Grateful Dead, Kurt
Cobain, and Black Sabbath.

 

*Converse has been around for 100 years, and
they’re an American company, as The Doors are an American rock ‘n roll band
(though Converse’s product IS made overseas, like most others).

 

*Their 100th Anniversary motto for 2008 is
“First In Sports, First In Rock ‘N Roll.”

 

*WE designed the shoes (in collaboration
with Converse, of course). I think they’re cool-looking, understated, and I’m
proud of the design. I also think they’re definitely the coolest of the bunch.
I’m sure you may disagree (I’m going with the odds here).

 

*As I understand it, we are the ONLY artist
of the four who refused to let Converse distribute our shoes to mass-market. We
will ONLY be doing two categories of retail: High-end stores, like Saks Fifth Avenue,
and limited “specialty stores” like Jernees. And overseas.

 

*You surmised in your letter – or at least
insinuated – that Converse wooed us with money when you wrote, “So  make an offer of beaucoup bucks….”
However, this deal is primarily a marketing device, in our eyes. What I mean by
that is, the advance and royalty we received for this deal were very, very low.
Insanely low. In fact, I think it may be the smallest advance deal we have ever
done. We clearly did not do this just for the money. So, why else DID we do it?
Simple – we want The Doors name to be promoted
and marketed to as many people as we can, especially people who may not hear
The Doors on the radio, and/or may not go to record stores – it’s a chance to
reach a whole new stratum of potential Doors fans that we otherwise may never
be able to get to. We feel that Converse will promote
The Doors, as will the retailers that carry them. People will see the name of
The Doors, they will see photos of the band, they will see our logo, and maybe,
some stores will put up Doors displays (though that is not a part of the deal
and is completely up to each store – I’m just being hopeful). We also feel that
as kids wear these shoes, their peers will see The Doors name, and their
awareness will be raised – hopefully enough to go check out the music!

 

*Lastly, we are NOT using music in ANY WAY,
SHAPE or FORM here. No music at all. Just putting out Doors shoes. That happen
to be manufactured by Converse. And, I presume, Converse will promote them and publicize them. Trunk advertised
Doors shirts manufactured by Trunk. There was nothing wrong with that. I’m sure
Liquid Blue, Junk Food and Winterland have done ads, too, as well as co-op ads,
and retail displays.

 

Look, I know that the “business”
part of a rock ‘n roll band can seem a bit hoary, a bit crass, and NOT what the
music was all about. And I agree with that. It IS a bit crass, in the end,
isn’t it? It’s NOT the pure music. It’s business. But I have made a certain
inner peace with myself over it. I’m not suggesting that you follow me, or that
you are even like me – but I AM saying that I have a heart, and a soul, and I
am human, and a HUGE Doors fan, too. I mean, I GET it. I love The Doors. I love
Jim Morrison. I love his poetry. I love The Doors’ art and music. I want to
keep it real, and pure, and alive! And here I am, presiding over an army of
marketing, promotion and sales
entities whose aim is to market, sell and profit from the free ideas and ideals
that gave birth to the music in the first place. It IS a bit of a conflict –
and I acknowledge this. I wrestle with it. I debate it with myself – and
others. I think of myself as a sensitive guy (here’s a Kleenex, in case you
were getting moist), and I want to do the best, most honest, forthright and
credible job for my heroes. Part of that job is making them money and a profit
from their band, its history, its name AND its music. And where profit motive
comes into play, there is ALWAYS an element of the crass. You quoted Ray Davies
in your piece, and perhaps an equally on-point quote is from Bob Dylan, when he
sang, “Money doesn’t talk, it swears.” Again, I am human, I
acknowledge this, and I try to do the best I can with it.

 

Bob, you say in your letter, “Don’t
tell me that things have changed. These are my memories, this is my life.”
And while these ARE your memories, Bob, and surely your life, I am here to tell
you that times HAVE changed, and radically – said changes that you have
reported on yourself, over and over.

 

I am faced with a business landscape that is
horrible. Record sales are declining 20-30% every year. On top of that, MOST
CDs in the nation are sold by “big-box” retailers (i.e., Best Buy,
Wal-Mart), who don’t CARRY “catalogue” or Box Sets as a rule! They
tend to carry the Top 40 current hits, because they’re not IN the record
business. They use CDs as “loss-leaders” to get folks into their
store, so they can then sell them a washer & dryer. And they have
rightfully surmised that MOST folks want the current hits, so that’s what they
carry. They don’t carry deep catalogue at all. Yes, Internet and digital sales
are up – and so is vinyl. These are all good trends (great trends, actually),
but they don’t come NEAR replacing the losses sustained by the overall record
business. And terrestrial radio, long the bastion of classic rock, nee, of ALL
rock ‘n roll for decades, is losing influence, and listeners, seemingly by the
hour. Please don’t forget, also, that in the case of The Doors and many other
classic rock artists (like another one of my clients, Janis Joplin), these
artists have passed, hence we don’t have touring or new music to rely on in
helping us expose new generations – two VERY powerful tools, forever gone from
our available arsenal.

 

My task, then, my question, is: how am I
going to expose these coming generations to The Doors if I don’t have
terrestrial radio, new music coming from my artist(s), record stores OR
touring? One of the (but not the only) answers is that I have to expose these
generations to The Doors as an idea, as an institution, as a certain way of
seeing the world, as well as a band, in a way that each different generation
can relate to. As a NAME that’s cool to them and to their peers. There are SIX
distinct generations, all of whom behave and respond differently, that we
market and promote The Doors to:
Baby Boomers, Post-Baby Boomers,Gen X, Gen Y, Millenials…and soon,
Post-Millenials.

 

And how do we get to them? Not to YOU, per
se – you already HAVE a relationship with The Doors, and you expect that
relationship to go a certain way and have The Doors treated in a certain
manner. But to the NEW generation(s)? How do I reach THEM? They are used to
different things than we are, and they accept certain things that WE (you and,
to a certain extent, I) may find repugnant or undesirable. They are influenced
by, and in turn want to influence, their peers, just like I did when I was a
kid, and just like I am betting you did, too. But make no mistake – IF YOU ARE
BEYOND YOUR TEENS, YOU ARE NOT THEIR PEER (nor am I). How YOU think is very
different than how THEY think. I appreciate the differences. I abhor many of
them. But in the end, I respect them, and I deal with them, because it IS
reality. These differences are clearly not something I am making up – I’m
merely reporting them, as you have yourself many times.

 

We can continue to do things exactly as we
would have a generation or so ago, keep The Doors all to ourselves, and go on
about our lives. I think a certain number of new fans would never discover The
Doors if that were to happen, though. Still, we can try to avoid the occasional
missteps and overreaches that sometimes occur as we continue to try and insure
that new kids will discover my heroes – whether that’s through a peer, a
parent, a videogame, or a Doors sneaker. I am just trying to illustrate, again,
HOW and WHY we decided to move forward with a Doors shoe in addition to our
other Doors apparel. The only possible exception is that, in this case, there
was not much of a money consideration here – it was purely an exercise in
marketing.

 

We all discussed this move, and we all
approved it. The question that remains is, did we misstep? Did we cross some
invisible line? Were we wrong in our ideas? Have we missed something? We KNOW
that not everyone will agree. We’re not trying to get everyone’s approval. The
Doors NEVER did that. But we ARE trying to look at HOW we do things, and why,
and make sure, to the best of our limited human ability, that we stay as true
as possible.

 

I know that I will never convince anyone
that is firmly to one side or the other of any particular ideology, or idea.
And I am not even going to try to take on THAT “fool’s task.” You
have your opinions, you are entitled to them, and I respect them. All of them.

 

You have made your feelings known. I have
now exposed mine here. I have tried to explain how we came to this conclusion
(and others). I hope we can both respect each other enough to take what each
side has said and chew on it. I know I’M chewing on some of the things YOU
brought up.

 

In the end, I do truly feel it’s a Doors
sneaker, just like we have Doors t-shirts or a Doors messenger bags (and NOT a
Doors Christmas ornament). In the end, Bob, it’s only rock ‘n roll, as I’ve
oft-quoted Mick ‘n Keith – but I LOVE it.

 

“Long Live The Lizard King,”
indeed!!

 

Go Obama/Biden.

Peace.

Love.

 

-Jeff Jampol

Manager, The Doors

 

 

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