Marketing Wildness

The music business is a battlefield filled with intelligent, resilient visionaries who have worked like crazy to get where they are and must continue to remain standing. It’s not enough to be recognized once or twice, moreover, ‘good’ is often not good enough.

For most artists, the path hasn’t been glamorous but, rather, full of rejection along the way. So if they reach the top, they’ve likely discovered what it is about themselves that sells. In the process of ‘making it’ they have also seen which compromises have been needful. They might sell their intelligence short by writing, as Perez Hilton comments, “intelligent lyrics about shallow concepts”. That’s the perfect stuff to make millions off of: obviously, artists need to get paid. Marketing a product that sells is a smart business move. Leave the heady art school essays behind and instead get paid to write fun stuff that gets people off at concerts or at least provides a soundtrack to mundanity. No-one has to feel challenged, no-one has to change. They can happily, mindlessly consume your product.

But where did the art go?

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Choose your picture-perfect poster girl for mainstream music/softcore porn (it’s a package deal). She’s likely done a racy photoshoot, possibly dabbled in some psychadelic research. She’s shocking . . . in certain ways. In fact, the shock is strangely predictable. Anything less and we might worry she’s a bit of a prude. The rock n’ roll lifestyle is familiar. Anything of that sort really isn’t a surprise any more. Rocking the boat like that will make some waves, but won’t change the ship’s course. This lifestyle plays within the game, sells a brand. The moves she’s made may push the envelope – but in a direction the executives can sell. You can market that kind of wildness, capture it and sell it.

In comparison, try marketing the move of Brian Head Welch (former Korn member), quitting his successful band to pursue a relationship with God. He’s written off as crazy, bad-mouthed by people who can’t relate. Our marketers don’t have a grid for that kind of radicalism.

But there, perhaps, is the art.

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