Is viral marketing a thing of yesteryear? Well, it depends on who you ask and how certain PR groups, managements, labels and artists are using them. We all are aware that online marketing is a heavy hit for many right now. Whether it's intentionally leaking or giving away your album to get fans to (at the very least) come out to a show, buy a t-shirt or that limited vinyl to put up on their wall - or whatever kids do with those frisbee things these days. Viral marketing certainly has its pros. For one, it's supposed to build anticipation. In an era when "just having ad-space" is part of the overload of informational clutter - the feel of anticipation is what viral marketing corners. With anticipation comes work. Why give the fan something, when they can help build marketing for your brand (read: band, product, whatever)? "You want to hear that new song? Well, you better get your friends to get our Facebook page to X number of "Likes" by midnight or you're going to have to wait another week assholes!" The general public will end of participating. It's nothing to them, and it only builds your product in their personal feed for others to see and click and "Like" as well.
Then there's the "special" factor to it all, which, if you understand the basic structure of "mediocrity," you're smart enough to look past the fact that you're not part of something that special, you're a number in a system to sell a product. Sorry, it's the truth for most, but not for all, so take that statement with a grain of salt. The blanket of exclusivity that's being marketed to fans is also a problem in controlling, and there lies the biggest con in today's viral marketing. The truth is, with the overload of ways to share, post and message(board) any and all activity on the internet, how does a band and their crew of knowledgeable staff contain any sort of exclusivity on the web. I think the answer is just another nail in some of viral marketing's out-dated ideas: they won't be able to.
It's a sad dilemma that the sort of "exclusivity" for fans can't exist because of how fast news can truly travel across the web these days. I think back to the AFI scavenger hunt a few years ago and how something like that couldn't exist now. We live in a digital world where it's hard to not only trust some with information months before its proper (press) release, but giving the general public of fans anything from a scavenger hunt to a secret URL to a coded stream, it'll be ousted to the populous in a matter of minutes, hours and at the very least, by the end of the work day.
It's a really sad state to think about though. As I've brought up the pessimistic opinion that you are not special as a consumer, and only a number to some in this industry - it's a blatant slap in the face and generalization to lump some who do want to do something special for their fans. Sending out a song premiere in an e-mail just isn't special enough today, because it's up on YouTube minutes later. Putting together a well calculated puzzle to open up an album stream just doesn't show a special, well-deserved pay-off to fans - because it only gets posted across messageboards and blogs alike as news.
So where does the fault lie? Is it in the hours spent that would seem wasted in putting together such packages? Or are the fans and media who expose these things meant as gifts to the fans who sit impatiently waiting for something new to blame? In the end, it's a great gesture that is ruined because of modern technology. We as media report on what we know. We know so much so fast, and it's not always through a proper press release. It's because of tips from fans and social feeds we do our best to research our news from. It moves fast. The idea of having any sort of "exclusive" content is kind of laughable at this point. You have to think about how exclusive any sort of content is for how long, whether it was intentionally put out into the public eye or kept to launch for a specific time on a specific day on a specific site - it all gets retweeted, shared and posted elsewhere before you can have a chance to call it your own at this point.
There are a handful of elements I do not like about this job. Being a sort of "judgement call" for an entire demographic of people (whoever that may or may not pertain to) is one of them. I don't hold myself on a pedestal by any means, and the best thing I can deliver onto whoever reads any of this is simply insight. That insight comes from living and breathing every minute of my life to some sort of aspect of music. It's the choices I make on my iPhone on the way to work at 7 a.m. and it's the song that gets randomly stuck in my head during my shift and it's the hours I stay up late reading articles, books and writing til 3 or 4 in the morning sometimes. It's the bands I heavily research and the talks among musical friends. So, if anything, yes, that makes me an authority on some sort of level. Yes, I feel very well educated in what I say. I feel so educated in fact, that sometimes I have to lower myself to the world around me. In working for a site that caters to a whole demographic of young mushy minds and those older elitist scum like myself, sometimes I loose it and go, "Really? No! Stop! I'm not going to let this cycle of bullshit run its course this time." On Friday, I lost it with this.
To repeat myself, because I stand by what I said: "If there's more press about the drama of your band rather than the music it produces. Quit."
Now, some of you guys found that to be an ignorant statement. Some of you guys agreed with me. That's great, I haven't been attacked in some time (well, since SXSW anyway...) and since I was at work during most of the discussion dealing with a whole other breed of idiots, I was only able to rebuttal to an extent. Tonight, after giving some thought to the original quote, I'll open up some more about my feelings toward this situation, and one that isn't the first time in the last couple of years, well, as someone pointed out, since music's great pop stride, has gone on forever. With understanding that, you also have to understand a set of variables. To say every band doesn't have a bit of drama (even The Partridge Family had their tiffs) would be an understatement. As those cases of tabloid/PAGE SIX news reels throughout the blogging network these days, it seems to take precedent over a lot of the substantial news that SHOULD be covered. That's not only in music. The Daily Show thrives off exploiting the major news networks of too much glitter whored across their reputable titles as gatekeepers. What do we do? The public eats that shit up! You fuckers love drama! Take a look at this week's top stories. At least half of the top stories (more than half if you count The Offspring single thread) were drama induced. Most comments. Best memes. You guys know the drill.
The thing is, and especially after working for this site for close to three years now, the younger these bands are getting, the more I hear about their drama in the news feed than I actually hear about their music. Again, the statement wasn't directed specifically at He is We or their music (subjective to argue, but bland to my ears) - it's about how sometimes I log on in the afternoon and the feed looks like a fucking high school gossip page of "he said, she said" bullshit. (Limp Bizkit reference. Check.) Yes, I may have used the term "Disney bullshit" a bit loosely in my original argument, but if there weren't behind the scenes mechanisms working on a "press release" or "statements" that are now being refuted - then something is up. It's not about the music - it's about an image, and that's the biggest part of this job that I'm sick of. Jason wrote a pretty blunt statement the other day, and there's really not much more I can add to it, because it just about sums up my point.
Drama happens. We're all human. Some of my favorite bands have certainly been through the ringer and some of the biggest bands have made it to countdowns of insane rock and roll moments that I watch on Vh1 over and over again. But those larger bands also have staked some sort of stock in this business a long time ago. After some time and some well followed music, those bands' drama ousting never overshadowed their work. With all the praise that The Dangerous Summer get musically, even their biggest fans are sick of the bullshit. Their external perception, this rock star image, is beginning to overshadow who they are as musicians. It used to be, when a band had problems, they took some time and regrouped - or just called it a day and accepted their small spot in history to someone - whether it was big or small. There's always tomorrow. If you were a band that gave your all to music and that made a "genuine" or "substantial" impact to even a minority, there's always a chance to get back on the horse - I mean, every band ever is reuniting right now - maybe in ten years, we will turn another cycle out of side stage cult followings. Maybe a bunch of kids will pull out their neon t-shirts and find those MP3s that were taken off their iPod to make room for their new favorite band because you couldn't get your shit together, or were managed by people who couldn't be as honest as you wanted to be about a situation. Honestly, any time anything is dragged through the mud and taken out back to be shot - a lot of people suffer. I can say this because I've seen it, I've read about it and I can tell you that He is We's situation is not the first - but maybe it's a mark to head in the right direction.
There is a moment of clarity in everyone's life where they realize that they can be easily bought and sold on their weaknesses. The reasons for you hating Warped Tour are the same reasons the kids older than us hated it when kids my age were going. The thing is, it's getting worse. Every band used to have to bust ass to last almost a decade if not more - those bands made a mark with their music that resonates today, and they did it without trying to have an image (their own, not one given to them by the media). It's a mark that makes us stoked about these small one-off reunion shows and so on. A lot of those bands have the Internet to thank for that - but they were also around at a time when there was a benefit to being blogged about - now it seems that some have taken the phrase, "There's no such thing as bad press," a bit far. The cool blogs are running puff pieces - or some blogs are Tiger Beat reincarnated for the technical age. That's why I made the statement I made. That's why I stand by it. It's my job to make those kinds of statements. If you've ever watched any of the "Rage Quit" videos on YouTube, that's how I feel most days of the week. That's the kind of shit you guys seem to care about. You say you're punk rock, but you're being sold an image from someone who doesn't know shit about punk rock, doesn't know shit about three to four years of D.I.Y. and VFW Halls. When Panic! At the Disco recorded an album before they even played a show and got inked - it was an image and sound that has been bought and sold for at least five solid years now. It is a distinct bubblegum-pop underground, just packaged to a different demographic. Guess what, I'm calling these bands out on it. I'm calling their managers out on it. I'm calling their labels out on it. As good as the underground punk and hardcore scene is right now, that mentality will seep into the cracks. It has through every genre ever. It's just a matter of time before wafting shit and eating stale saltines that "sound pleasing" because you've just given up.
"Angry without a message or a meaning. When I got into punk and hardcore we were proper outcasts. We got into fights with the pretty boys that nowadays seem to be the bands. We were ugly and stupid and no girls liked us. They still donít. Now it seems like all the jocks and pretty boys got themselves some fresh Ink and everyone loves them...This is just another boyband. Maybe it is more appropriate to compare it with the 90s Hairmetal. Music that claimed some sort of metal stamp but was just supercommercial and substanceless music. Yeah, thatís what is happening. Music has no meaning, no substance. It just about haircuts and tattoes. We are living in horrible times." - Dennis Lyxzen (Refused, The International Noise Conspiracy)
I'm not sure why it hit me tonight. The idea crossed my mind the second I pulled onto the highway to go watch the Super Bowl with a friend. Maybe it's this weekend. Maybe it's in the rut I'm in. Maybe it's the work I owe a lot of people, and better things to do with my time. Maybe I want to see the effects of a personal #SOPA blackout. I'm not sure. When I wake up tomorrow and finally drag myself out of bed and onto my futon to sit down and blankly stare at the screen before embarking to my e-mails, I'll move just there. No Facebook. No Twitter. Not even the occasional Tumblr scroll for shits and hoping to find that one funny meme to slightly entertain me for the afternoon. As of the Sun rising tomorrow morning, I will be disconnecting from the social sphere. For how long? I'm unsure. I want to try and last until the end of the month, but we'll see how it goes. At the very least, I want to last a week.
I know, I know. Keith Buckley kind of did this already. He is an inspiration in doing so, but this is about me, not him. I want to see how it effects a lot of things in my life, both personal and professional. Mostly I want to see how it effects my consumption of both inspiration and musing. I'm either writing, or I'm sifting through article and editorial links on Facebook and Twitter (generally aggravated by half of what I read) for hours. What could I be doing with those hours? Finishing half-read books on my shelf? Completing my work in a timely manner instead of 10 minutes here and a half an hour in social networking's endless no-man's land?
Then there's the personal side. I want to see with how many people I can keep up with just by phone - call or text or simply spending more time out. I want to spend time in a room holding great conversations, instead of computer parties and half-listening to what someone has to say because you're checking up on something on your phone that has nothing to do with the moment. For an extended period of time, I'd like to make the best of my surroundings and see how that in turn effects my thoughts and therefore my writing. I want to enjoy my social surroundings without sharing them with the outside world. I want to see how far they'll stick without having them archived.
This whole thing revolves around that archival of information. So many ideas, opinions, pictures, songs, film clips are shared, reblogged, liked or reposted in just one day, I'm unsure if I'm retaining any sort of discussion that's going on around me or if I'm even having a minute to form an opinion of my own, with so many sides of the topic striking me at once. Why do I feel justified even in sharing with you every null moment or inside joke you're not going to get unless I tell you a thirty minute story behind it?
I'll still use the Internet. Still be on the site. Still will be sifting through e-mails. Just no "social" feeds of any kind to gather information or be a social voyeur.
At the very core, I just want this to be fun. I'll let you know how it's going in the next installment.
It's been quite an eventful week when it has come to discussion pertaining to the music industry. But more importantly, it's been eventful to have ourselves a good ol' rowdy discussion (read: Holy balls Batman! We made it through with no one getting banned!) While I still stand by some things on both sides of the argument at hand, it's the fact that I stand on both sides that's needed. See, I'm not a person that believes in a definite truth to anything. There's always an exception. To me, it's never about finding the right and wrong of a situation, it's doing your best to understand the full spectrum of it. Keep asking questions.
Curious George, you were the man...err...monkey!
Better than an argument about how kids spend their money - fuck it, blow it on hookers and candy I say! - is when you read something that really grabs you. When someone says something that you've been screaming in the back of your head for most of your life.
Property of Zack ran a new guest blog this week with booking agent Matt Pike. Pike has the attitude that anyone in the industry should have, let alone anyone wanting to do anything with their life: "You see, I NEVER expected anything to be handed to me. I have always lived with the mantra that if you want it done you better go and do it your fucking self. Iíll take that mentality to the grave."
Think about it. It was rewarding to be second in line and snagging what I was hoping to grab this year at Record Store Day. People sometimes ask how I have this cool little job, it's simple, I worked my ass off in other media outlets four years prior - this ain't my first ro-deo! I did it all on my own terms, and reaped one hundred percent of the reward.
If you really want something bad, you'll do whatever you have to do to get it. It may mean mowing a few lawns (Do kids still do that?) to save up for that one concert you've been waiting to see or a small shitty part time job to fund your vinyl addiction. The point is, I think in anything in life, it's your path to your goal. The minute you let someone else start molding your decisions, it's no longer your goal, it now is morphed into another goal with another path that may or may not be your own.
I've been thinking a lot about what Geoff Rickly said about Omar Rodriguez Lopez's reaction to new material being unleashed onto the world. It's no longer yours. That's anytime you throw your ideas out into the pool, it's no longer your meaning. It's interpreted and possibly not interpreted wrong, but just in a different light.
Along with the new site, I would really like to see more open discussion about the changing of the guard in the music industry, but I would also like to see all sides of any argument to open themselves up more to opposing views. Even if in the end you don't agree with that view, at least you have a new light shined upon the discussion at hand. It's the only way we'll truly grow and make a difference, because sometimes you do need someone to guide you a better path to complementary goals.
So, last week Native rolled into town with PJ Bond and that's where the discussions started. As a) an Austin resident and b) someone who has frequented many shows and regular venues of this great city, I'm already getting the South by Southwest buzz. Sorry, I get to be the guy who gets to know, but I will keep my mouth shut to the public about the upcoming day and night showcases I've heard about so far.
Just in the last week, my excitement is beginning to swell, and possibly going to my head. So I sit hear. Just breathe. I keep calm. There has been much discussion amongst my good friends about what South by Southwest will bring to the table this year, but one thing we all agreed upon is the next wave of bands. In 2011, 2001 is on its way to happening again. It's something, if you read anything I write about (read: we get it, you hate most of Rise Records' line-up), I've been standing on a digital soapbox for some time now telling you all that it's been ten years. Like most frequent cycles, especially in that of music, we've come full circle. Hearing about the number of bands coming and not coming to this year's week long event of music, networks and free booze - where we're going, we don't need no stinkin' badges.
There are a lot of showcases I'm excited about for a reason other than the great acts. I'm excited to see how many kids will pile into some of these smaller venues as opposed to the big rooms. I'm curious to see if some of these kids are looking for more substance in the art than is piled across their faces and hair styles. There are certain bands gaining momentum out of house shows and clubs and into larger venues - headline tours are foreseen in the near future. These bands are growing alongside other bands. They're touring together. Most importantly - they're feeding off each other.
Thankfully for an enthusiast as myself, I need something to keep me guessing, to keep me excited. There are numerous times in my field where I've said, "Yeah, that was good," but really meant, "Meh, it wasn't bad, but it didn't strike a match under my senses." Maybe because it either sounded similar, or there was a lack skill or passion holding it back from inspiring a cartoon light bulb above my head. Last year, there were many light bulbs. This year looks poised to create even more. I hear these bands talk about one another. They talk about other bands' skills. They talk about their anticipation of hearing each bands' upcoming albums, and not as colleges and friends sharing a bill, but fans of their respective music. It happened with labels and rosters like Dischord and BYO and Level Plane. Sure, those labels don't have the turnaround they once did, but think about how many bands they ended up influencing. A lot of those labels are these new labels. A lot of those bands are these new bands.
Much like my banter on intellectual property, ideas need to fight and feed off each other to progress. Jazz musicians ripped each other off and made it the point. They were breeding new ideas from tired old ones. Big question: How long will this new generation boil, and how long til it settles into another round of conformity?
For now, things look promising. Today I received the new Former Thieves album, The Language That We Speak, in my inbox. I haven't put it down all day. It has sidetracked me from writing reviews I was working on earlier in the afternoon. It's made me think about the first time I heard something heavy and thought-provoking like Botch or Norma Jean or Fear Before the March of Flames. It's an album that grabs the listener, and in a way, sets a bar among many hardcore bands right now.
La Dispute, Touche Amore and Defeater are up to bat later this year. Match that to new releases from Thursday and Glassjaw, more brewing from the Midwest and Long Island scene (Tidal Arms and Lights Resolve especially), and there are pockets of musicians everywhere feeding off each other. Though there is usually much complaining of your favorite bands hitting it big, I'm so tired of the muck, that I hope Former Thieves' single, whichever they choose, is the top play on Headbanger's Ball - if MTV even still shows that...
After one month, 2011 has proven itself to be a brute force of a year. I'm 24, but I feel like I'm 16 again. I hope all those that are now 16, they finally realize what real punk music is.
When is intellectual property under copyright? Besides the obvious answers including fair use and the difference of copyrights, trademarks and patents, when is an idea owned in some sort monetary value or property right? Does it have to come into fruition or remain the "first" in any forum or marketplace?
After watching The Social Network and Exit Through The Gift Shop in the past few weeks, I've been throwing that idea around in my head - especially when it involves art (in any form). I remember discussing this specific topic a lot in my media law classes in college. I always tried to separate this in my head as art and everything else. Like the media business and art partnership of some time, there's no right or wrong - technically. On one side, there's the business: we're all trying to make a buck to survive, etc. Then there's art, where ideas are bounced off one another to create another idea. In a world where that said marketplace of ideas is constantly growing thanks to this little Internet thing and, let's face it, an supersaturation of advertisement and media that won't matter years down the line, art can be manipulated by the slightest form of pop culture or Shakespearean allusion.
Who truly owns it? Should public domain be more of a free game than the current laws of copyright allow it? With the rate of technology, especially now, the constant rate of turnover of ideas into tangible ones is outrageous. Even as Jason is building the new AP.net, I can see him feeding off of other designs. But it's not what he intends to copy, it's what he intends to improve. Just like in The Social Network, the idea, whether given to Zuckerberg's character as an idea, never came into fruition until two things happened: He created the code and improved on it. He attacked the idea in a different way. So was it then his idea, since it was executed in a different manner? How is his art expendable to someone else's idea if they executed it in two separate ways and one was more of a success?
In any rate, if what I believe is the wrong side of the argument is right, in their light, all these shitty neoncore bands owe a percentage of their crappy t-shirt sales to 2003's alumni of bands. Those bands owe sales to the D.I.Y. bands of the mid-'90s. Those bands all owe Rites of Spring and so on and so on.
After thinking about this whole this one begot this one's idea and so on, maybe it all just boils down to greed. Personally I don't know what I would do with a billion dollars. Never work again? Bored. Pay my debt? It's a small fraction of that. Help people? Possibly.
The commercialization of art is the real crime here. It's an intellectual property that has no value past subjectivity. When you look at a vacuum, you know what it's intended to do. When you pick up a new album, you have no idea how it's going to make you feel. When you waste money on a Slap Chop, you know it'll suck. When you come up with an idea to revolutionize the world, you're not really sure how far it'll go until you execute it. Even then you have to continue to reshape it to keep up with the marketplace around you.
I'm pretty spent after this weekend. Heat. Booze. Late nights and early mornings. There was something I wanted to share and/or discuss before I tried to catch up on some more sleep.
This year's Austin City Limits was not just another festival for me, but a realization of general public perception. See, I have some distaste for the general public's idea of what good music is. When Linkin Park and Daughtry are selling millions of mediocre (yes, I'm giving them the benefit of the doubt by using that word) records, I don't understand how great bands lose out. Sure, while there are bands like Muse and the Foo Fighters and newer bands like Band of Horses and Circa Survive constantly gaining momentum with the gen pub over their last few albums, there's still crap out selling the good.
That said, after having a few talks with some festival attendees throughout the day and on rides on the shuttle to and from the park, it seems that festivals like Austin City Limits - and festivals in general - are not for us music snobs, they are for the general public. That's a good thing. Some attendees just set up camp in front a stage and watched based on the headliner. People waiting to see The Eagles may have encountered Portugal. The Man. Some attendees floated on word of mouth, or just walked between main and side stages on one side of the park. Some sought shade and found a new great act, while others overheard and were lured over waiting on other acts.
While many of us are knowledgeable about the current music scene, there's a majority that are not. So I say that festival attendance - no matter how much some of you may hate the crowds or how people seem to handle themselves - is sometimes the best way to get new music out to Clear Channel listeners. Unlike the young music scene who do nothing but hijack, it would go without saying that the older generations aren't as tech savvy. Maybe what we should be excited about is that those bands we want to see succeed need to be heard by that majority who we think have such terrible tastes.
I mean, at least they can have an even mix of good and bad music. Something listenable on their iPod when you don't have yours to switch out on them.
I think I have a knack for either making great discussions or just starting shit storms. Today is no different, and teeters that fine line of most dramatic news/opinions/editorials I post on the front page. The person in question: Lady Gaga. If you don't know who Lady Gaga is, then you either a) have been living under a rock that's covered by a mountain located on an island that has not been discovered by any other human except for you or b) see choice "a" on this one as well.
My thoughts on Gaga is simply this: It's commercial pop music with mass appeal. We saw it with Leif Garrett and the Osmonds. We saw it with disco. We saw it with Corey Hart and those damn sunglasses. We saw it with Madonna, Britney Spears and so many other acts that have come before it. So why does anyone care whether Lady Gaga is successful? For one, I don't really give a shit. In fact, if Lady Gaga keeps producing sub par albums and this whole neoncore bullshit fest thing is dragged out back and shot in the face - tomorrow morning would be a great day.
I think what Gaga fans and haters are at each others' throats about is the fine line between art and entertainment. Then it's "What constitutes as an artists?" or "What is a true musician?" and so on. The bottom line is this: Stefani is just another pawn in the corporate cycle. Sure, she is being artsy (which is argumentative, and believe me, after living in Austin for a year, I've seen my fair share of this discussion...) but at least she's got the gull to do it. What has she done? She's stirred talk. Did you look at that thread? Am I not sitting here writing this instead of doing something way more important? She has succeeded in creating controversy and conversation.
What's the final verdict here? Does Gaga deserve a place in music history? If so, is it because of her work, or the way she shows it off and is outspoken both off her tongue and what she wraps herself in? When it comes down to it, it's what you pay attention to that will effect the outcome of her legacy. If she puts out a really great solo album and tours in jeans and a t-shirt for two years, would you re-write your opinion that she's a talented artist, or would you write her off because she's too "plain" or "conformed" in the next act.
I just know punk rock. What Gaga is doing is...well...it may be punk rock. In the end, there's nothing shocking about any of her actions. It's been done before by the Coopers, Reznors and Mansons of rock. Rob Haltford shocked fans when it was revealed his studs were for studs. Iggy Pop would mutilate himself on rednecks at bar shows. Madonna and Neil Young were pulled from MTV for some of the dumbest reasons ever.
We all watched. We're all looking to be entertained. Honestly, I don't give a fuck. I'm going to listen to post-hardcore and sing "Telephone" at karaoke night. I'm not persuaded by Gaga's fashion and swagger because my history lessons have taught me it's been done before. As for her music, whether she wrote it or not, it's not anything beyond commercial pop to me. Enjoyment when I'm drunk, but I won't go out of my way to listen to it.
The real winner in all of this...Stefani herself. She did something. We (and a columnist) reacted to it. There's NO arguing that action.
"It's my belief that history is a wheel. "Inconsistency is my very essence" -says the wheel- "Rise up on my spokes if you like, but don't complain when you are cast back down into the depths. Good times pass away, but then so do the bad. Mutability is our tragedy, but it is also our hope. The worst of times, like the best, are always passing away" --- 24 Hour Party People
Keep the talk alive! Just please, let's chill on the bloodshed. What are we, Congress?
love and respect.
P.S. --- I have a lot of work coming at you all through this site and AMP Magazine online, with more happening this week. I want to thank everyone for their reads and kind words. It means a lot. I don't know what my future as a music journalist will turn into, but if I can eventually dig myself out of the restaurant business just to not have to survive on the almighty dollar, I'll be happy.
Well Rolling Stone, you were wrong again. This isn't the first time you've been wrong, nor will it be the last. Who am I to judge? You could have never foreseen the digital age making a mockery of your headline and all.
What to do with all these CD's. What to do.
There's a shop here in Austin a few blocks from Waterloo called Cheapos. If you're ever looking for a used album on CD, you should be able to find it here. In fact, you should be able to find quantities of it here.
Saturday I found a Holland import of Radiohead's Amnesiac in special packaging for $5. Days before, I found a Grand Royal pressing of At the Drive In's Relationship of Command for $6.
There's a gem here and there. Combined with the ample amounts of used vinyl that includes 20 copies of every Linda Ronstadt record and the usual picks that show up at every used record store, I began to wonder where all this wax and plastic that the public doesn't want anymore will end up. Landfill? The island of misfit records?
The "greener" good aside, there's something more striking about the stacks of new arrivals that line a section of Cheapos. There are quite a few new albums available. Nothing "last week," but less than a month would be more accurate. It got me thinking, that the process of buying, burning, selling, and cycling CD's like that is something that many might be doing at the moment.
If the majority of America bought CD's for the music, but now that they have everything on one MP3 device that can be taken anywhere, even the car, what's the point in hoarding all those disc, just to take up valuable space?
If this is true, why not just buy the albums digitally? Well, the influx could be for two reasons. One, is take the same idea of buying CD's, ripping them, and selling them back, but with used records. Genius right? The difference in buying used and returning used is slimmer than the cost for a new album, or a digital purchase. Two, there may be an influx just because the masses are now realizing that those CD's in their homes are going to waste sitting there, and bam, an influx of selling back.
Without theorizing too many scientific methods here, it is obvious that CD's have lost their luster. I believe vinyl is resurging because those music listeners like me are opting for an even more tangible approach to their ritual. For those who don't care about the packaging anymore, which I believe is the majority of casual listeners, the digital option is now present for them both legally, and illegally.
I say put your money into something though. Whether it's a small investment in a CD, or larger bond in vinyl, which may gain better interest. With a selection of used CD's seeming so abundant, I say, why not go discover something you wouldn't have paid half price for, or repurchase that Alanis Morissette record that your friend never gave back to you, and then moved, and you haven't seen him/her for the past 10 years except for that Facebook request the other day.
That's not to say that there isn't room to believe that the data is wrong in any way, but I'm going to try and look on this at both ends.
Why I believe it's accurate:
For the most part, I think a number of people who download music genuinely are looking for more music because they love music that much. Like a nervous twitch, they're constantly looking for something to add to either their hobby, or for some of us, their lives.
Like someone who enjoys any type of entertainment, they don't like waiting. Movie buffs will go to midnight showings, and be the first to buy the special edition DVD the day it comes out. Music buffs will be the first to grab a leak, a way to have a digital copy in anticipation for the street date. What is a street date anyway nowadays? A way to market a record over a few weeks with radio play and music videos-- two sources that are surely becoming out of date thanks to this Internet thingy.
I'm sure there are other "business" reasons (pressings, distribution, stocking, etc.) to have weeks between mastering and physically being on the shelf, but with physical copies on the decline (except for vinyl, but that's a whole other discussion), it shouldn't be surprising that leaks and downloads will give consumers a preview before the release date. I would bet anything that a majority of offenders who downloaded X-Men: Origins are going to go see it this weekend.
What about downloading after a record has been released? There's so many channels to consume an existing record. What about those who hoard music?
Why I think the data isn't accurate:
I think leaks are the primary spike in illegal downloading over the past two years, at least. The study doesn't separate this data though. There's no difference as to whether the downloaded material is pre- or post- release dated. I think that's something that needs to be accounted for.
Also, the story says, "Researchers found that those who downloaded "free" music Ė whether from lawful or seedy sources Ė were also 10 times more likely to pay for music. This would make music pirates the industry's largest audience for digital sales."
Digital sales! What about physical sales? What if those in questioned just assumed "yes" for any type of purchase, no matter the medium?
I believe the study is accurate, because I believe that a majority of those who download are the ones putting money back into the system through concert tickets, t-shirt sales, physical copies, etc.
The study doesn't look to be without its faults. I think the approach to marketing will drastically change in the next decade, and I believe a lot of bands will rely on labels less, press less and give even more incentives to their existing fans, and new fans alike.
This year looks to be a great year for music, and some artists are doing some pretty insane pre-orders, along with sales on Amazon MP3, it's good to say the future looks bright for what we love. There's a fine line, we as consumers are riding, and I think some are making it work, unfortunately there are a few bad seeds here and there taking new technologies for granted.
Illegal downloading is illegal. There's no question on that. But making bad music and saturating the market should be illegal too.
I said to myself that I wasn't going to get a Myspace.com page, and then I caved. I said to myself that I wasn't going to get a Facebook.com profile, and then I caved. I said to myself that I wasn't going to get a Twitter...
Fmylife.com is probably the funniest thing I've come across since Failblog.com. The site is small stories that all end horribly and in FML. Some are outrageously hilarious, and some are far fetched, and possibly made-up. What they all have in common is our internal knack of voyeurism and social awareness. We thrive on knowing other people's lives, whether it is to be a part of the solution, or take amusement at the expense of their downfalls.
It's okay. We're not laughing at you, we're laughing...oh, fuck it...we're laughing at you, and hope to never be in your position.
Why we find amusement in our patron's follies, I will never understand. I'm a journalist, not a sociologist or psycologist. I guess we are just intent on knowing and responding, action and reaction.
Of all the social networks to keep up with, Twitter is still the hair I'm constantly scratching on my head about. On the surface, Twitter seems to be nothing more than updates-- a "status" feature that is nothing new to anyone on Facebook.com or Myspace.com.
While flipping through the channels Sunday night, I came across Larry King, discussing Twitter with Jimmy Fallon, Ashton Kutcher and P.Diddy. Larry King is Twittering, and according to him, "Oprah is too!"
Now, there is nothing more insane then watching the elderly learn about new technologies, but the point of the discussion was how celebrites can use Twitter for good, instead of self rightous worth.
Has Twitter become a contemporary "force," a modern day Jedi mindtrick?
The point is something that stresses the good in both viral marketing and advertising, and quick relays to the consumer, matched by even quicker responses. Twitter is an even more direct connection from both an artist (brand) to the fans (consumer). Twitter even impacts more than just music, but entertainment ranging from celebrities to movies to television shows.
What about us regular Joe's and Jane's?
I think I'll stick to voyeurism on the humorous side (FailBlog, FML, The Picture is Unrelated) and just keep you all updated on Facebook.com. Other than that, I'm not going to cave and get a Twitter. I'll leave that for the industry who have embraced a great new tool, and those of you who need to reach out, quickly, and touch someone-- metaphorically, sicko!