Monday, August 16, 2010

Odds and ends and Arcade Fire

Mashable looks at the next check-in craze, and as a follow-up to yesterday's Johnson & Johnson post, here's a breakdown of the company's response to the Tylenol scare of the 1980s.

Finally, my friend Dave Copeland, teaching a college PR class in the fall, sends along this nugget about Arcade Fire that deserves a closer look. Seems some of the band's hard-core fans are irked over Arcade Fire's aggressive marketing tactics and sudden commercial success. Frankly, I've never understand why some people don't want the artists they love to succeed. All that matters is the integrity of the product, and the band seems to have taken care of that, at least for now, by owning their own music.

Besides, it seems to me that it's never been easier to stick to your roots and still enjoy a measure of commercial success as a recording artist. Call it the long-tail effect if you want, but it has less to do with the Internet's on-demand inventory than with the democratization of marketing. Relatively few people know how to go about purchasing commercial time on television, or how to effectively target a press release distribution, or how to put on a press junket. But a lot more people know how to put together a good Facebook page, or use Twitter to drive you to their web site, or create a clever YouTube video that ends up in one of those annoying email forwards from your dad.

On the other hand, having Amazon sell your CD for $3.99 can't hurt.

1 comment:

Jenny D said...

The NY Times article is an extremely contrived bit of writing. It might as well have been written months in advance, regardless of how the launch was recieved.

Honestly, the only backlash I'm got a sense of is the one music hacks seem to assume is happening - rather than anything I can actually see. Indeed, the entire basis for the this article appears to be a single stray three-word-tweet.Hmm.

As far as I can see, Arcade Fire fans - and indeed, even people who aren't so hot on them - very much see this as a little victory for the oddballs, on their behalf. Arcade Fire, love 'em or hate 'em, are very much the real deal. They loving making music for people, and they love making music people love. They're on a quirky independant label that people like, they rarely compromise on anything that matters, and the've continuously found new ways to reach out to their audience. This campaign had a number of ingenious ideas driving it. It's beyond me why so many journos have gotten so wrapped up in the significance of the 3.99 thing when the synchronised artwork was a far greater innovation, both as a creative means of presenting your music and as a canny and easy way to discouraging filesharing without penalising paying customers with DRM. And that DID cost full price, and plenty of people paid it - something that was lost in all the acres of text putting the whole thing down to the discounted price.

I think this gem of a quote neatly encapsulates the quality of this article for me:

"Ultimately, the most indie thing about Arcade Fire might simply be that it owns its means of production. "

The only indie thing about Arcade Fire is that they're uh, independant. "Indie" used to be more than just a label for an aesthetic, and it feels like a music journalist ought to be aware of it.

This kind of lazy writing really bugs me, and it says more about the worst curses of music journalism than it does about music itself - writing to satisfy an expected narrative, rather than actually organically observing anything.