Saturday, May 12, 2012

End Of A Year Self Defense Family - "I'm Going Through Some Shit / All Fruit Is Ripe"

Looking into my computer screen one morning not too long ago, I attempted to show my roommate the tumblr for EOAYSDF. The blog reads something like a twitter feed serving random musings mixed up with paragraphs of hard earned insight, served up in a constantly updating Q&A session with the band. He sat down and read a single paragraph, where an anonymous user was telling the band they couldn’t use derogatory language (in what context was unclear). To prove a point,  a member shot back a response peppered with slurs, defiance and sarcasm informing every line.

Immediately revolted by what he had just read, my roommate closed the laptop. Without playing a single note, the band had alienated a potential listener before they knew it.

It’s interesting how technology works like that. Where 50 years ago a small army of marketers closely worked together to brand an image onto the artist, and worked to control public perceptions of the artists that they manage, that same artist today has every power to interact with other people through the internet, for better or for worse.
Perhaps this model presents an interesting sidestep around traditional notions of marketing and brand management. A half dozen creative types sitting around a table brainstorming how to directly appeal to subculture x might still lose out to the more traditional form of publicizing: the old fashioned cult of personality. Instead of offering up press releases on the status of their new tours, they instead post well thought out relationship advice or fashion tips that reads occasionally like a ‘Dear Abby’ newspaper advice column.

It creates a unique phenomenon where the band will go on tour and meet people who don’t enjoy the music, but are avid followers of the blog. In a sense, the story or persona of the band comes to rival and perhaps even overshadow the actual music being made.  It might be worthwhile to look at the consumer psychology behind it,  where one becomes so well read into the personal life and daily musings of a group of people, that even though you have never met them or initiated contact in any form, a certain bond is created between the viewer at home with the spectacle that presents itself on screen.

In the same strange way that a group of characters in a sitcom slowly becomes relatable as you discover the nuances and intricacies of their personalities. Eventually they take on a sort of simulacra of actual friends you might have, or perhaps wish you did. By the end, a gateway is created into the music, as though putting on a record is supporting your buddies new band, or as though you have a privileged insight into  the lyrics that might slip by less ‘connected’ peers. These new methods of reaching out to people serve to create links between the consumer and the artist in ways that traditional marketing has always failed at: they possess authenticity, even if filtered through social networking websites and laptop screens. In the case of my roommate, who was alienated by the strange outburst, he may never again give them a chance. However, inherent in that post was something that traditional marketing teams may never achieve, the illusion that you are actually connected to the band as friend to friend, with all of the ugly, the insightful, and the mundane.

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