Saturday, December 7, 2013

The Shock and Awe of Music Marketing

The Shock and Awe of Music Marketing
by Scott Price

We've seen a lot of interesting music shows and the way they have been marketed this year, haven't we?  In fact, over the years the presentation of shows has changed right down to the fashion, dance presentations and have portrayed a visual concept to the music and the artists that compose it.  What we watch our performers do and how they act effects ourselves and our children from very the moment they watch it, and you can betcha that their is a marketing team out their analyzing the stats, counting the dollars and preparing well in advance for the next campaign.

The year 2013 brought a whole new level of the infamous "wardrobe malfunction" that Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake  experienced during Super Bowl XXXVIII in which the dreaded "nipple slip" went viral within minutes and it seemed that the incident took over what was supposed to be the greatest football game of the year.  Who were the teams?  Who won the game?  I don't know.  But, I sure do remember Janet Jackson's breast over and over again on YouTube and Social Media Websites and I bet the marketing teams saw that as well.

Although, I believe that some of these incidences may have been unintentional, you can bet your bottom dollar that the marketing team and others were watching the sensationalism, the traffic and the dollar signs of what was really selling in the music market.  The next ten years would prove to hold some of the biggest and most lucrative and sometimes genius moves by marketing companies who handle the big celebrity clients.  I also want to note those musicians that don't have marketing companies and self promote themselves tend to struggle a bit longer and are the success of their careers are unique.  A great marketing team will see the genius is branding your character to fit a future trend that they see happening long before the musician does.  A bad marketing team will use the performer in any way shape or form at the risk of the artists reputation in order to bring the cash to the table. A worse case scenario would be an artist under contract where he or she has to do exactly what the marketing team and sometimes investor or record label tells them to do.  Either way, it's up to the artist to decide their limits on how far they will go to sell their product in which Sinead O'Connor went the distance in her song "War" on Saturday Night Live in which she rips a photo of the late Pope John Paul II to shreds. The tearing up of the photograph was designed to call attention to the issue of sexual abuse within the Roman Catholic Church.  Sinead probably should have consulted a good marketing team before making such a bold act on National Television, which did massive damage to her music and financial career.

In the music business, it is important to remember that any press, whether it is good or bad = GOOD!  Celebrity musicians and artists are already in the spotlight.  Any comments, opinions or statements are under the scrutiny of the public.  Some cause major controversy, thus creating a buzz.  You maybe shocked to hear that your favorite artist all of a sudden announces they are gay or that they have decided to come clean with their drug addictions, and even though the PR marketing team advises not to do such important self issues that the artist is struggling over, they still are compelled to do what they need to do in order to move on with their lives and their careers as in the case like many artists such as Ricky Martin, whose sexual preference could and may have cost him a chunk a hunk a fanbase and money.  The fact is that from the moment the mouth is opened and the action is taken, the branding of that artist goes well beyond their music and more into their character, their careers and future employment and endorements. 

A good marketing company will follow feedback on certain product campaigns, weekly and monthly trends and then formulate and put together a plan well in advance.  They match up what the public likes and is looking for with the artists that fit the criteria.  A well executed plan can create millions of dollars worth of revenue coming in.  This is where the revolving door of well to do artists suddenly become more than just their music.  They become a phenomenon.

Don't be hard on the Bieber - 943,654,206 = Big payola, sponsorship and more.

Before I continue, I would like to remind the reader that the shock and awe of music marketing is decades old and connected directly to your television screens.

Elvis Presley's "Elvis Pelvis" will go down in the history books as to how far down a camera man could scroll without broadcasting Elvis' gyrating pelvis LIVE to millions of viewers.  To me, Elvis Presley is the Godfather of Twerking, and what Elvis did naturally with his voice, his body and of course the music was a marketing companies dream come true.

One of the biggest marketing gimmicks we've seen was the performance of Blurred Lines with Robin Thicke and Miley Cyrus at the 2013 Video Music Awards.  This is where the team got together and created the shock and awe to have Miley Cyrus half naked, sticking her tongue out, pretend she's masterbating and put her ass up in the air while Robin was pretending to lay it on Thicke.  This was all while several lifelike Teddy Bears on stage and about 200 millions viewers were watching with their jaws hanging on the floor, which was followed up by multiple YouTube, Instagram and Facebook posts of Will Smith and his Family's jaws agape.
Even Star Trek was thrown in the mix.  This all happened on Billy Ray Cyrus' birthday, Miley's dad.  Happy Birthday Billy from the Miley marketing team!

This was a clear marketing message that was sent by Miley Cyrus and her team.  Hannah Montana was dead and she was never coming back.  The shock and awe was put into the hearts of hundreds of millions of adoring Hannah Montana fans, who will never look at Hannah or a Teddy Bear in the same way again. A new brand and new image was created and Montana fans grew up learning how to Twerk and stick their tongues out just like Miley and a new revenue stream was in place to replace the old one and all looed on over the land and said, "This is good!" 

The Cyrus campaign was followed up with a single called "Wrecking Ball" in which Cyrus rides in naked on a ball, licks a sledgehammer up and down and solidifies once and for all, that this is the new Miley like it or not.  The sexual message is very clear and we know and have been repeatedly reminded that Miley is good at riding balls and licking long objects, and for a marketing team this is perfect when you can create a skit with high profile celebrities to do these things!  It's a multi-billion dollar industry and several other companies including regular ordinary people, created spoofs and jumped on the bandwagon to capitalize on the opportunity for traffic and revenue.

Another shock and awe marketing technique is to get a rise out of the general public with egotistical actions and shameless statements.  No one does this better than Kanye West, who has put together a marketing gimmick for his brand to show the world just how shameless you can be and create revenue doing it.  From the free style performance rituals in front of thousands of his adoring fans on how he sold his soul to the devil, the egotistical skits prepared by himself and Jimmy Kimmel to the fake interview ran by "The Daily Currant" with Kanye West saying he thinks he is "the next Nelson Mandela." The fake and definitely not real interview brought much attention to Kanye and thus more than likely generated revenue in his pocket.

No matter how you look at it, for decades the musician has been on the front lines of the world for us to marvel, scrutinize, make fun of and be shocked of.  They are the true performers and the characters that you see when watching them on TV.  Just remember, that their is a usually a marketing team molding these characters and changing them from innocent mouseketeers to Illuminized Paranormal heeps of revenue and little Hannah Montana's will be riding Santa's Balls that have the aroma of Chanel This Holiday Season!

Merry Shock and Awe and To All and to ALL,
A Good Night!

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