Don’t create the buzz, let the buzz create you 30/1/2008
After reading an interesting article in this Saturday’s Guardian’s Guide supplement I thought I’d chuck in my 2 cents worth (nice feature by the way Mr Jonze if by chance you’re reading this, I completely agree with your ramblings).
Hype within itself never stops. As long as you have music publications in any form or medium then there will be hype. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this whatsoever; I myself have succumbed to praising many an artist in my time both established and upcoming (anyone who read my review of Grammatics for High Voltage magazine will probably accuse me of hyperbole (btw, I went to see them last week support The Futureheads and they were brilliant)), but it’s at this time of year where the hype machine well and truly spirals out of control.
Every magazine, radio show, website etc that has even a sniff of something to do with music will do their yearly ‘Tips’ for whoever they believe is going to make it in the coming 366 days. I’ve already done my tips for 3 different mags and I wouldn’t be surprised if I get asked a couple more times before the end of February.
The main problem with these polls is that they are so often heavily influenced by the tastemakers of the music publication industry. So whoever NME, Q, BBC Radio 1 etc choose as their personal tips then a high percentage of the smaller, less influential mediums will follow suit as quite often they’ve received their tips from the bigger sources themselves. This is obviously not true across the board, just something I’ve witnessed since I’ve started doing this writing malarkey. There is also the case of journo’s not wanting to take the risk and stick their neck out: when I was asked for my tips I could have said people like Adele, Duffy, The Foals etc then at the end of the year when they’re massive I can look back and say ‘I told you so’ and feel a nice self loving warm glow inside, but where is the fun in that? People already know these are going to be big because the ‘tastemakers’ have told us so. For me it’s much more fun to choose artists I genuinely really like and hope that they get the recognition they truly deserve!
Anyway, back to the point; what Tim Jonze was complaining about was when these artists who are receiving hype left, right and centre start moaning about the fact they’re receiving hype left, right and centre. Again, there is nothing wrong moaning about this fact in principle, it’s just when they decide to tell us via an interview with Jo Whiley, or in a feature in the New Musical Express, or on Friday Night with Jonathan Ross where it begins to take the piss.
At Sentric I work pretty much exclusively with unsigned and independent acts, some of which strive to receive even the faintest mention in a major music publication and several of which are chuffed when their name is in the NME gig listings! I know several artists who would be elated to receive just a name drop and here are all these bands moaning about the hype that will be caused by the interview they’re currently doing!?
The finest example of not playing the hype game comes in the rather obvious form of the Arctic Monkeys. They did bugger all when they first hit the scene and everyone completely lapped it up. It was quite simply marketing genius. Even when they had ‘made it’ and started winning Brit awards they still played the game refused to show up to collect the supposedly prestigious accolade.
So what can unsigned artists take from all this hype tripe?
My personal advice is too “Don’t create the buzz, let the buzz create you”.
Instead of spending 4 hours on Myspace adding another hundred friends to your current list of 2,000, why not go and write a song instead? Instead of getting the whole group around to spend an evening creating your new logo and some dodgy pirated version of photoshop, why not practice instead and really tighten up that transition from the middle 8 to the final chorus?
Make your music too good to ignore.
I’m currently absolutely obsessed with a program called ‘The Wire’ (which I simply beseech you to go and discover if you haven’t seen it yet, it’s simply the finest TV program ever made) and as my favourite character Stringer Bell says; “If you ain’t got the product; then you ain’t got nuthin’”
What I’m reading this week: Russell Brands autobiography