I was recently having lunch with a good friend who often tips me off on good things to listen to. He’s the man behind this playlist which amounts to my hip hop homework (Golden Era hhip hop albums I ought to own). We were chatting and he mentioned a Late Night Tales mix by Fatboy Slim he’d discovered. After digging it out on Spotify I then found another such mix, this time by Bonobo.
I’ve always liked the idea of Bonobo more than the reality (I find that I like one or two tracks on their albums, but they can get a bit wearing after a while), but this mix picks tracks that bring all of their best characteristics to the fore, but leaves out the annoying bits. The fact that I had found this mix on Spotify got me thinking, again, about what Thom Yorke recently said about the service.
In case you missed it, millionaire musician Thom Yorke was rather scathing about the music streaming service, calling it:
the last desperate fart of a dying corpse
Apart from the fact that a man as intelligent as Yorke should realise that a corpse can’t die (it’s already dead), his entire attack seems to miss the point. He seems to dislike the fact that Spotify is trying to make money from the distribution of music.
When we did the In Rainbows thing what was most exciting was the idea you could have a direct connection between you as a musician and your audience. You cut all of it out, it’s just that and that. And then all these fuckers get in a way, like Spotify suddenly trying to become the gatekeepers to the whole process
What Thom is missing here is that it’s not Spotify who are illegally downloading music in plague like proportions. It’s not Spotify or even the labels who refuse to pay for music; Spotify is trying to find a way to make money out of giving music away for free, and share that with musicians and it’s trying to find new ways every day.
No, the ones killing the music industry are the ‘fans’ Yorke seems so desperate to have a connection with who are reluctant to get out their wallets.
In fact it’s interesting that he mentions In Rainbows, the album Radiohead released over the internet with the option for fans to choose how much they paid for it, right down to 0. Because despite there being an opportunity for fans legally to download it for free, or even to suggest that they valued the band’s work by actually paying for it, more people downloaded it via unofficial torrents.
Therefore it strikes me that Yorke blaming Spotify for how much money musicians make for the internet is rather like blaming newsagents for the decline in fortunes of the newspaper industry. If he really wants to blame anyone, he should blame the labels for the proportion that they take out of the revenue Spotify does generate, which is not insignificant. That’s a boring contractual discussion though, and probably wouldn’t get as much newsprint.
It’s not often that I would side with Moby against the man responsible for Radiohead’s output, but when it comes to Spotify, and the future of music, he’s bang on.
I am a 45 yr old Luddite and proud of it.. yawn. http://t.co/KdZGwJtxLT
— Thom Yorke (@thomyorke) November 26, 2013
to be clear, i love @thomyorke and david byrne, creative geniuses. i just don't see the point in fighting a future that's already here.
— moby (@thelittleidiot) November 26, 2013
To summarise, I think it was Jeff Jarvis who said:
Should isn’t a business model
He was trying to highlight that whilst the people who make newspapers (or, in this instance music) might think that people should pay for their content (something I would agree with), that isn’t going to stop people taking it for free if they can. Jeff Jarvis may be annoying and easy to ridicule but in this instance (if it was him) he was right.
It strikes me that it would be so much better if people as talented and clever as Yorke and David Byrne actually engaged with the future and started trying to find solutions, rather than just shouting at the trains.
A while back I wrote about the recent trend for tweet-writing, the spiritual descendant of churnalism, whereby journalists outsource their jobs by simply publishing tweets from random celebrities when something momentous happens, even if there is no connection or context.
Earlier today the great Nelson Mandela passed away. Which means it must be Whoopie o’clock, at least for one bored journalist.
It’s not Whoopie’s fault she keeps getting used in these ridiculous lists, though I do hold her responsible for her own turn of phrase which manages to be both twee, patronising and pretentious, all at the same time. But it really needs to stop; Pedestrian.tv, I’m looking at you.
And yes, it can get worse. That is Fergie you can see below Whoopie. MENSA must be having the day off.
If people were asked to name innovative musicians, I’m guessing that Bob Dylan wouldn’t top many lists. And yet, in some ways at least, he’s one of the most innovative around.
First there’s the fact that, much to the disgust of most of his fans at the time, he abandoned acoustic folk music to ‘go electric’ (resulting in arguably the best recorded live performance of the 20th Century). The pioneering documentary about him, Don’t Look Back, gave birth to what could probably be described as one of the first modern music videos, for the track Subterranean Homesick Blues.
Then, more recently, to promote a Greatest Hits compilation he (or at least his marketing people) created a great app around that selfsame video that allowed people to substitute their own words for the lyrics on the pieces of paper discards (unfortunately it no longer seems to be live). And now, to promote the release of another Box Set, there’s another fantastically innovative marketing piece from the Bob Dylan team.
This time you can watch the first ever official video for his magnum opus, Like A Rolling Stone. That doesn’t sound too amazing until you watch and realise that you can actually watch multiple videos, because the whole thing has been done so that on every channel on an imaginary US TV network, the stars are mouthing the lyrics to the song. No matter what point you switch channel, it’s in sync. My favourite moment was when the line:
But you’d better lift your diamond ring, you’d better pawn it babe
Was ‘sung’ by the presenter of a QVC style station. Though I imagine the hope is that the characters from Pawn Stars are on-screen when that line comes up.
This is the point where I would normally embed said video, so that you can all gape at its brilliance. But because I can’t seem to find any embed option (though lots and lots of other blogs seem to have managed to), I haven’t. I could tweet or share a link to Facebook, but for some reason they appear to want to make it difficult to embed, but then Dylan always was difficult.
It would also probably crash my machine, as just watching it causes the whole thing to skip and shudder (even though it’s not meant to take too much bandwidth). But at least I’m not writing this on my mobile because, being built entirely in Flash, it simply doesn’t render on iPhone or Android. But, other than that, it really is amazing: here’s a snippet to hopefully demonstrate that fact.
One of the biggest phrases of the year, at least in the world of marketing, has undoubtedly been Native Advertising. It’s actually going to be the subject of my look ahead to 2014 at an IAB event tomorrow. But now it seems that in the US the FTC is going to examine whether it might cross boundaries in terms of clearly marking paid for material as advertising. And in an effort to make it even more on trend for 2013 the session where this will happen is apparetly going to be called Blurred Lines. Anyhoo….
I can’t help wondering however whether, from a brand’s point of view, this rush to native advertising (at least in terms of the version of it which consists of editorial content, as opposed to the original forms of native formats such as paid search ads or promoted tweets) isn’t a little premature. After all this week also saw Amazon prove, once again, that a good bit of PR will get you more coverage than you’ll know what to do with, even if it’s patently ridiculous.
I can only assume that Jeff Bezos has been taking notes from that other master of getting newspapers and otherwise serious people to belive absolutely ridiculous statements, Michael O’Leary of Ryanair. As David Mitchell put it in a recent column:
[Ryanair] was able to harness the awesome power of negative publicity. It could refuse to provide wheelchairs for disabled passengers, it could impose surcharges for the slightest infringements of its terms of travel, it could accept complaints only via a premium rate phone line, it could float the idea of offering pay-per-view porn films on flights…Negative publicity is always free and, as long as it didn’t seriously undermine any of the three pillars of cheapness, speed and safety, it did no appreciable harm.
O’Leary achieved this by saying things that were quite obviously incredibly unlikely, such as the fact that he wanted to charge passengers to use the toilets or that he wanted to get rid of seats, which the press and twitterati then swallowed wholesale and regurgitated endlessly, thereby providing him with millions of euros worth of free advertising, with no need for him to worry about whether the FTC thought it should have been labelled as paid for content.
With O’Leary apparently now determined to make customers love him, it seems that Jeff Bezos plans to steal his crown. As The Guardian’s James Ball piointed out in his article on the subject:
What Jeff Bezos announced amounted, essentially, to an aspiration to change how his company delivers products, in about five years time, if technology advances and regulation falls his way. If his TV appearance hadn’t included the magic word “drones”, Bezos’s vague aspirations to change an aspect of his company’s logistics probably wouldn’t have made waves. Lucky for him, he did – winning his company positive publicity just ahead of what is usually the biggest online shopping day of the year, the dreadfully named Cyber Monday…Floating an exciting-but-impractical innovation for a swath of press coverage is such an old PR tactic you’d hope no one would fall for it, and yet everyone still does.
And indeed, everyone still does. The article directly below Ball’s? One entitled:
From Amazon to kebabs: 10 things you need to know about consumer drones
Before we start, let’s be clear. I love Coke. As a customer I love the taste and as a marketer I love the fact that they have been responsible for some of the greatest advertising and comms campaigns of the last hundred years.
That includes the design of the bottle which was briefed to be:
a bottle which a person could recognize even if they felt it in the dark, and so shaped that, even if broken, a person could tell at a glance what it was
It includes the 70s TV ad which became a hit record, the recent campaign which tied Spotify downloads to bottles and cans, an event in Israel which made a festival truly social and changing their colours to match the 72 different clubs of the Football League, including the blue & white of arch-rivals Pepsi.
But I’ve been wanting to write about their new Australian ad for some time as I think that, compared to their normal efforts, it’s a little weak. Essentially it’s an ad that looks like it’s been made by cutting and pasting Instagram shots together (the rounded corners and retro filters scream Instagram, though the app doesn’t get a shout, which is disappointing, if nothing new) and is promoting a competition that offers the potential to win $5,000 if you buy a bottle or can.
There’s nothing worse than people who simply bitch about other people’s work though, so hadn’t actually written anything. But then I saw this and it’s everything that Coke ad should be.
Rather than just looking like Instagram, it’s made of Instagrams. It’s beautiful, elegant and one can easily see it being skewed to bring to life the feeling of summer. There would undoubtedly be much more work to be done finding and sourcing the creators of all the shots (being a non-commercial piece of work gives the creator a lot more lee-way) but that could simply be a case of Coke hiring this guy to direct their new ad (he’s obviously in the biz) and asking everyone involved for their permission.
I am guessing that enough would say yes to make it possible. Heck, you could even make it a competition, though that could give rise to complaints that Coke is trying to do photographers out of a living. But whatever came up negatively could undoubtedly be planned for and dealt with and the result would have been a delightful piece of work with real resonance.
Damn, hindsight is sweet, just like Coke I guess.
Before moving to Australia I had a little ritual that I went through every-time I saw a plane in the sky.
In order to stop myself from feeling like there were people going somewhere exciting whilst I was stuck in rainy old England (or Ireland) I would always pretend that the plane was flying from Aberdeen to Luton, or vice versa, because, in my mind, there could be nothing exciting or jealousy-inducing in either place. Except when I was a kid and Concorde flew over every-day; that was just cool.
Well, it seems that BA have just ruined that little fantasy with their new campaign which taps into the very simple insight that we all lift our eyes when we hear planes flying overhead and many of us probably wonder where it’s heading. In order to highlight the range of their routes they have created digital billboards which update with details of flights passing by.
A Fast Company article compares it to interactive billboards in Sydney Airport that Google is using to promote its Play store, but I think the playfulness of the BA ones are more aesthetically appealing. But they’re both pretty clever.
A while back I wrote about a band called BADBADNOTGOOD whose name tips a hat to the fact that words can have more than one meaning. In the same vein I think we should start talking about MARKETINGMARKETINGNOTDIGITAL to highlight work that may use digital technology but is, at its heart, just great marketing. BA’s #lookup definitely ticks that box.
But, frankly, when they sound like this (stripped-down, slightly nostalgic electro) and have videos featuring guys dressed in retro Adidas trackies breakdancing on roller-blades, who gives a damn?