Organic Promotion, Corporate Style

August 16th, 2004 · No Comments
by Booksquare

In an effort to save your bleary eyes, we will refrain from posting the husband’s thoughts on the music industry. Suffice to say, he has sufficient experience in various capacities to assure his views are well founded. Loud, but well founded. We will, however, summarize because his thesis is germane to our posting: the music industry doesn’t get it.

It is easy enough to extrapolate this rant to other entertainment industries. Just yesterday, we had an email exchange with a friend on the subject of promotion. We talked about how hit-and-run promotion doesn’t work — the online audience too jaded. Likewise, corporate shills posting as fans has been done to death.

The entertainment industry has for some years been going into chat rooms and message boards to promote its products. But Ms. [Robin] Bechtel [of Warner Brothers Records] said this kind of activity was not part of the Secret Machines [band caught in the fallout] campaign. She said the comments could have been posted independently by fans of the band who worked at the company.

Only an entertainment industry executive could say that with a straight face.

Making books, records, even films available to independent publications (we’re including blogs here) is a great way to build buzz. Trying to drive the editorial discussion from cushy corporate offices is generally not such a great buzz builder. The artist will be viewed with the same skepticism applied to the corporate entity:

“You can’t just dive headfirst into a subculture and expect it to bend over backwards to cater to your lame attempt at free advertising,” said Andrew Nosnitsky, a senior at George Washington University who writes about hip-hop on his blog at Mr. Nosnitsky also mocked Warner for sending a rock track to a hip-hop site.

This Internet thing has been around long enough that we would think someone in publishing or music or film would catch a clue. It is our belief that what we don’t get, we fear. And even the most tech-savvy junior executive is soon hypnotized by the corporate belief system (file sharing is bad, etc), and true opportunities are missed. Warner treated blogs in a manner they wouldn’t attempt with print publications (yes, hold your laughter, we’re painting with a broad brush here) — they tried to increase their odds in a dishonest and obvious manner. These are people who don’t understand the technology they seek to exploit. Planets have been known to blow up because of technological mistakes like that.

The Secret Machines, and we’ve heard enough of their music to have a neutral opinion of them, face the same problem midlist authors face: lots of products, few venues for breaking out of the pack. Word-of-mouth is the best selling tool available in tihs situation. If only certain entities understood that word of mouth isn’t quite defined as words coming from the mouth of the vice-president in charge of promoting this artist.

File Under: Square Pegs