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 don’t. 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, that’s 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 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.
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 – whether from lawful or seedy sources – 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!
Last.fm, and its data, is vital to the music industry. It shows how many people actually care about another U2 album.
Seriously though, in a failing industry that is consistently trying to support an influx of cyber-musicians, it seems that Last.fm may be the site to bet on in this industry's recession.
Last.fm is simply a buzz market for online music listeners, and music listeners in general. The idea of discovering music through the market itself is a brilliant model. I sometimes wonder the success of a band like BrokeNCYDE, but can't deny the charts on Last.fm.
For those of you who have wasted your time in downloading the new U2 record, you should be ashamed of yourself for more than the illegal leak. A CBS-owned company, Last.fm is now part of the market, officially through its conglomerate Viacom-- to my knowledge, unless there's a legal bout I'm not catching.
If said news of yesterday was to end up true, it would suck for many of you, but the fact that something like this could happen is just a new marketing model among the digital age, and it's one that I think is quite brilliant.
Last.fm is a free site that allows anyone to own a username and browse many artists' charts. No one has to be sold information when it's free to begin with. I think labels, major or independent, should pay attention to the charts that run across Last.fm. I also think they should look at the mass charts, because, let's face it, the majors are always looking toward the mass market.
The scare of your personal information being leaked to businesses and the RIAA is outrageous in a case like this, considering the information is easily accessible on the Web to begin with.
Industry A&R's should embrace models like Last.fm to discover and sign artists. We can only hope that listeners on Last.fm have great taste-- that means stop listening to BrokeNCYDE and pick up Yellow House!
Budgets. Four minute commercials for an album. Does anyone even watch anymore? Is it available to everyone?
Two questions crossed paths inside my mind in the 24 hours when the Super Bowl aired and I got myself off the couch after watching a good bit of music videos yesterday afternoon.
See, to those with common sense, music videos are only commercials to heighten the release of a record through a single with visuals. But in the go-go, fast consumption world of the Internet, and quick blinks and adlets, do we have time to sit and absorb three to four minutes of airtime anymore?
Youtube.com has opened up a bigger channel (no pun intended) to let people discover new music, instead of waiting to see it at 3 in the morning on some sister MTV station that only exist if you pay extra-extra (or Cash Cash for you scenesters) for cable or satellite.
That also means we have to search, let load, and sit through three to four minutes of video until we get bored and decide to click on the dangling cat from the ceiling fan that flies into the wall.
Is there a need for music videos anymore if there is a lack of consumption of its product? What is the chance that the average Joe will pick up a record (or illegally download-- let's get real) after catching the album's accompanied video? Hell, does the consumer have the time between trying to catch this week's Bromance and Tool Academy (which is the best show ever!).
To this I say, take a cue from the Miller corporation and start buying airtime with well edited blinks and adlets. I've seen some pretty horrific movies, and have consumed some pretty sub-par products, all because I was persuaded by a flirtatious, seducing and well-edited ad. Why can't this work with music? Not a commercial, no, I'm talking about a viral 5-second hype machine-- if you even watch TV for music anymore (but again, we're talking about the average Joe).
It will be interesting to see if music videos are needed to sell a product, or if other models will emerge. All I know is that a 12-pack of High Life bottles is $7 at the local Winn-Dixie, and that ad has got me excited for the weekend, and my wallet is telling me no differently. Who can afford billions of dollars of airtime at this time anyway, let alone expensive beer...here's to the cheap delicious champagne!
Browsing through the latest issue of Alternative Press is always a shock and awe, and this month's issue was no different.
No seriously, how can your band of the year not be part of your 10 essential albums of the year? But that's a foray into selling magazines against having a valid opinion, because we all know, business is business, and insightful ideas and suggestions don't pay the bills.
In reading the feature on Kay Kay and his Weathered Underground, a quote from band co-creator Kirk Huffman (ex-Gatsbys American Dream if you were wondering...) caught my attention:
"So far, we've sold just as much of [our debut on our own] as Gatsbys did during the big first week of release on Fearless...That's incredible to me. At this point in time in music, labels don't do anything you can't do yourself sitting around with your laptops and wireless [Internet]."
The article does delve into the fact that KKWU only released both a digital and vinyl copy of their album (for those of you who didn't know).
What I wonder about this release is whether it was a choice or not a financial option to release the album on CD. Then I figured the release of the digital copy would be easier and cheaper to distribute (duh, lack of physical material), but it would mean that the band opted to spend their investment in the physical medium of vinyl.
If bands are doing everything on their own, they must invest wisely, with limited copies, which would lead to pressings on vinyl-- a limited medium for audiophiles until all this repressing started happening.
At this point I can only scratch my head believing that without the money to manufacture CD's because of the DIY mentality, the medium will either become as limited as wax, or simply phase out all together for underground bands' ideas of investing in a distribution model at a time of a falling industry.
This may not be the same for the big wigs, and it doesn't mean that many will continue the written path that many of taken before them-- they just may end that path the same way as well.
But seriously, was it necessary to press the Thursday/Envy cassettes!?
Today I interviewed David Sandström, formerly the drummer of Refused.
We ended our interview discussing the differences in recording an album like The Shape of Punk to Come in 1998, as opposed to now.
That led us into a conversation of how the recording and distribution models have so drastically changed; how bands have cut out the middle man; how bands weren't making money back then, so no one should be complaining now; and how the older punk and hardcore bands used to network by pay phones and numbers written and given to other bands on paper.
The one thing that was brought up, and interested me the most, was our talk on the death of the album. Now, this is nothing new. An argument brought on by the likes of many music writers and critics.
But Sandström brought up a new business model that he would think to see the majors possibly use in the future.
While the old standard was a single, and a series of singles became an album, and then bands began to create a testament as a proper full-length - that trend is dying.
While I'm not saying that there aren't bands out there creating great albums, I'm saying that they don't exist as much as I would like to see, but they do exist.
Sandström's idea was that there are artists who can create great songs, or singles, but when constructing an album, they fail, and only create meaningless forgettable filler. He suggest that some artists should go back in creating singles. That some band's should just release songs as they go.
With the ability to create music on your own, as opposed to "middle man" help - and the distribution and sales of digital singles out weighing full length albums - bands can still make money off of singles.
The idea makes sense, revolving back into the old standard of 45's and 78's that had an A and B side. The problem with this is set times. Who wants to go to a show to see only a few songs - right? But imagine a tour with more bands and shorter set times.
Sandström was part of one of the best records ever written for a genre that has all but dwindled itself into muck. Those bands who are still around, but started the race, are lapping those who joined later.
It was a privilege to interview such a talented musician, and a creator of a footprint of a record.
"New Noise" Video
"Deadly Rhythm" Live
(NOTE: Sandström told me he used three different drum sets to get different sounds on this song)
Also, Anton has written a great blog on his thoughts on Twitter. Please check it out here if you haven't already.
It's a new year. This means two quarters to try something new, and two quarters to try and recover from it, just to end up in the red once again before this time next year.
But twelve months is a long time. If research has shown us anything in 2008, it's that CD's are out, vinyl's back in, and digital is steadily pacing itself.
It seems also that artist can give away their creation, or sell it at reasonable "recession" prices, and if you want to pay a little extra, you might get some great extras with your packaging and pre-orders.
But, I don't know much of costs and reasonable marketing and distribution practices, but I do have quite a vivid imagination. With that, I give you five industry changing tactics that may or may not happen in 2009.
***If any industry personnel decides to use these, I want you to at least pay off my college debt in lieu of royalties...
1) We all didn't see The Slip coming. Hell, who would have thought of picking up the newspaper and getting the new Prince record. Trent Reznor is going to top everyone this year with the release of his new, yet untitled record. You actually don't even know about it, until Reznor shows up at your door, knocking, hand delivering his new album to each and everyone across the United States. Saint Nick? More like Saint Reznor.
2) Thumb drives, CD's that are half vinyl and tour only cassette tapes --- all mediums we could have done without last year. But don't be surprised with the new mediums this year. I hear Universal will be looking into incorporating their artist roster into Milton Bradley games. I also hear Capitol/EMI are set to re-release Furbies this Spring with built in older albums such as Frampton Comes Alive! and Pet Sounds.
3) Myspace, Facebook, Twitter, and Blogspots have all blown up this year. This year, artists will be turning their pages into Easter Eggs. That's right, like sitting down with a DVD for the first time, fans will be searching Web pages every day, from the top of the browser to the dead space at the bottom. Who knows what you'll click on! New demos? Free EP's? Live video footage? Forget HTML coding. Fan boys - you better start clicking, everywhere!
4) Bands are going to start digging deeper for inspiration. If you thought Brendon Urie finding Beach Boys and Beatles albums at a garage sale was huge, wait until Dredg announces Sinatra as their inspiration for their new album and Hayley Williams is way into Ruth Brown. Digital singles for Buddy Holly are going to blow up with Nelly's new single's sample this summer.
5) Rock Band. Guitar Hero. Wii Music. Well, prepare yourself for the best RPG ever. Combining the MMO of World of Warcraft with the cuddly platforming of Little Big Planet, Rockstar will release, well, Rockstar this summer. The premise: You begin as a slum and a dropout living in your parent's basement, and like an excellent Tony Hawk sequel, make your way to the garage, the local bar - where no one pays attention - and around the country tootting your songs. The game gets "real" quickly once you ink a deal in your own blood, and then see the royalties flow in and out quicker than your Top 40 single and summer tour.