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In the bag

PostPosted: Wed Aug 17, 2005 9:50 am
by howard male
Now this amused me - it may or may not amuse you.

I got my first bit of free promotional rubbish yesterday by special delivery. It was a bright red bag which opens up into a beach mat and has Amadou and Mariam's name and album title emblazoned on one side. Further evidence that they really are pushing this one, which of course is great.

However, I've never quite seen the point of such things. Do record companies think that if at some point in the future, I find myself at a fairly average (perish the thought) Amadou and Mariam concert, I'm going to suddenly remember how deeply touched I was by their record company's lovely gift, and so end up giving it a rave review? Can anyone enlighten me on this?

commercial breakdown

PostPosted: Wed Aug 17, 2005 11:06 am
by antonija
Sorry, no enlightment - just a confirmation of one sad comparison: I forgot who said it, but it goes like this:
"There are two ways of dealing with some (usually major) record companies: Imagine there is a muddy trench and artists (or their managers ;-)) on one side and A&R on the other. As an artist you have three options:
1) go through the channel, realize there is too much mud/dirt and go back (difficult to get that mud off later)
2) go through the channel, manage to climb to the other side, get the contract and...still even more difficult to get the mud off...
3) get audacious, don't ever cross the channel, get a loan - do the album yourself and stay devoted to your own way/reasons of making music and the own way of promoting it.

The last one is the most difficult one - but who says life is easy, anyway ;-).
As long as there is a good intention and strong heart leading one on his/hers mission - everything is possible.

I feel we are here on the edge of coming back again to the discussion of Tom Waits, commercials and ******** commercials which have no intentions to inform but to twist one mind off.

Is it possible to have a world where music is music and beach mat just a simple beach mat?

PostPosted: Wed Aug 24, 2005 9:39 am
by howard male
Antonija wrote -

Is it possible to have a world where music is music and beach mat just a simple beach mat?

Only in a Janet and John, early-learning books, Antonija.

Music and beach mats are consumables, and all the dominating forces in our culture are interested in, is convincing us that we need these things. If we need these things then we need money to buy them, and if we need money to buy them, we work harder for those dominating forces.

A hundred years ago God and hunger were used to make the peasants work harder - the former would strike you down, damn you, frighten you (the Devil makes work for idle hands) or simply make you feel guilty (the work ethic - a nineteenth century fiction) for not working hard enough. The latter was simply a necessity, and wages were deliberately low so the labourer had to work longer hours just so they could eat.

Now that most of us are indifferent to the alleged powers of a hypothetical god, and, at least in the West, most of us - even the unemployed - have more than enough to eat, the new weapons of the state, directed at its populous via the huge weapon of mass-hypnotism - the media - are fear and consumerism. On one page of your newspaper will be stories of terrorism, and murder, or the other, the things you can buy to make it all go away. Thus we still work every hour our hypothetical god sends, to buy all this stuff we really don't need.

And thus, record companies send journalists bits of tack (metaphorically stroking their hair) hoping to further bolster the sales of whatever they are trying to shift at the time.

Opiate for the masses

PostPosted: Thu Aug 25, 2005 4:22 pm
by Con Murphy
What a quaintly Orwellian viewpoint, Howard. Which is somewhat ironic given that a) you confess to being a fan of Big Brother, a programme whose principle aim is to sell advertising to the late-teen/early 20-something high-disposable-income tabloid and celebgoss-mag buying demographic, and b) the only state-owned media "weapon of mass-hypnotism" is dear old Auntie, who of course broadcasts our favourite radio programme.

PostPosted: Thu Aug 25, 2005 6:23 pm
by howard male
Con wrote -

What a quaintly Orwellian viewpoint, Howard.

It's the truth, damn it! (he exclaimed in a highly theatrical manner)

As long as Big Brother doesn't sell anything to me I don't care how much disposable income brain-numb twenty-somethings spend on produce advertised during its broadcast. Anyway, Orwell supposedly cared about all the gullible folk who were at the mercy of the state. I only care about not falling under the consumerist spell myself.

I once witnessed an unusually long queue first thing one morning in HMV. Most of the people in the shop were in the queue or about to join it. My mouth literally fell open when I realised 90% of those queuing were clutching a copy of 'The Full Monty' to their chests. It was the first day of its 'release' and these people, for some reason needed to own this film, and own it as soon as possible. They had presumably seen it six months ago at the cinema, and would see it for free in another six months on TV. Their need was clearly bordering on the insane. Now that is the power of advertising, and possession acting as a balm for media-manufactured anxieties. And it's the same with every kind of consumer goods.

Have you ever thought to ask why people need to see/hear/read something as soon as possible? All this stuff doesn't go away - quite the contrary - we're going to be stuck with most of it (with the exception of good old fashioned books) for thousands if not millions of years, we're going to be drowning in discarded CD's, DVDs and video tapes, never mind their often, equally indestructible, packaging.

This is not Orwelian fantasy, this is fact. People are scared and so they are buying, buying, buying like it's going out of fashion, just to keep their fear at bay.

And anyway, Con - if I didn't make a statement that was heavy with irony or drifting on an undercurrent of paradox, then I wouldn't be keeping to my self-administered role on this forum - to hold an opinion for as long as it takes to type it out, and then enjoy waiting for someone such as your good self to pick great gaping holes in it.

Heavy 6th Form Philosophy Discussion contd...

PostPosted: Thu Aug 25, 2005 7:51 pm
by Con Murphy
I'm just playing Devil's Advocate to keep your debating muscles in shape, Howard. And so, ever onward...

howard male wrote:I once witnessed an unusually long queue first thing one morning in HMV. Most of the people in the shop were in the queue or about to join it. etc

Elsewhere on this site, I've decried the "Best World Music Album This Year Ever!!" approach that sometimes pervades CD reviews, and I'm pretty sure that also elsewhere on this site many of us have confessed to our own rampant consumerism in the form of CD purchasing, only we view it as intellectual curiosity and a constant hunger for new music.

Maybe we should conduct an experiment. Let's take, say, the latest Djelimady Tounkara CD. Nobody buy it for at least a year. We know that we will hear tracks from it on the radio for a while anyway. We know tracks will probably appear on one or two samplers or compilations. We know, also, that in 12 months' time it will still be there and at a cheaper price.

Of course, what might help us achieve our aim of not succumbing to temptation on this release is to defer reading about it. If reviewers tell us how great it is, we might not be able to stop ourselves purchasing it. Bye bye Independent ABC magazine. Bye bye fRoots and Songlines.

In fact, scratch what I said about the radio, it might be best not to listen to those shows that might play it. They're only trying to encourage us to hide away from reality. Bye bye An Other Saturday Night, bye bye Andy Kershaw.

Like I say, I'm only playing Devil's Advocate, but the Devil thinks there's a smidgen of intellectual snobbery in what you are saying, Howard.

(He also acknowledges your undercurrents of irony and drifting paradoxes - most fetching they are, too).

PostPosted: Thu Aug 25, 2005 10:25 pm
by Guest
Ha, I feel another recruit to the power of the ipod is within our midst.
ps. be careful, with just one frivolous comment I seem to have the power to 'end' most threads. (possibly should nt have opened the 2nd bottle of wine)

PostPosted: Fri Aug 26, 2005 9:29 am
by howard male
Of course I'm an intellectual snob. Aren't we all Con? But I'm still willing to admit an addiction to Big Brother or the persuasive powers of a good Hollywood blockbuster.

The first part of your argument - being as it supports my argument - is spot on. But to progress from that to suggesting that simply by reading about something means we must have it immediately is less spot on. I often read a review of a new novel and, like most readers, happily wait 6 months or a year for the paperback. If some hack's dubious taste or a colourful half-page ad, compels you to go and immediately buy the item being discussed or you are clearly an advertisers dream, Con.

But I would like to think we as world music fans are the least susceptible to all these consumerist pressures anyway. Because we are such a small demographic (and therefore relatively insignificant to the giant selling machine) we aren't subjected to the high-pressure selling tactics of, say, the shifters of mainstream pop.

No one is really trying terribly hard to push the latest Honest Jon's Lagos compilations at us. By comparison, Goldfrapp's pouting Alison has been giving me the come hither look from every magazine and billboard for the past two weeks. Obviously a direct correlation exists between acres of press coverage and units shifted, and it has nothing whatsoever do with quality of product.

It's simple: by slow insidious osmosis the consumer realises that he/she is nothing without this week's product the record company has decided to sell us. And even the word choice has little relevance these days - the major labels really do dish out one thing at a time these days. If you doubt me on this, see what happens when the new Franz Ferdinand album is released, if it's possible to read about anyone other band or singer that week, I'd be very surprised.

But hurrah! We world music fans get to seek out what we wish to consume by locating obscure radio shows that play it, and hunting it down CDs by ordering them from obscure websites situated, sometimes, in distant corners of the world, in the curious knowledge that we may be the only owner of that CD in the country. We are proactive consumers, which is how it should be.

And who said there was anything wrong with 'hiding away from reality'? Reality is the very thing we all need to rediscover. Reality is what lies behind this matrix of gloss, toss, and intransigent entertainment.

I would love to know how many records were bought on average by someone, say, in the 1920's. Perhaps they would hear hundreds of songs a week on the radio and only by one ten inch wax 'single' a month. And how that record would have been treasured!

Let's face it, we are rampant consumers today, and less happy for it.

Last post on this, I promise

PostPosted: Fri Aug 26, 2005 10:58 am
by Con Murphy
howard male wrote:The first part of your argument - being as it supports my argument - is spot on. But to progress from that to suggesting that simply by reading about something means we must have it immediately is less spot on.

This thread (amongst others) would indicate otherwise (albeit 'hearing' and 'seeing' also come into it, as it does with Goldfrapp, Franz Ferdinand and The Full Monty):- ... .php?t=420

I'm not criticising anybody, indeed I too went out and got that CD ASAP, I'm just saying that it's a bit hypocritical to disparage mainstream consumers and the people who sell to them when the same human traits are adhered to in microcosm in our own world. That was the point I was trying to convey (obviously not very well!).

PostPosted: Fri Aug 26, 2005 11:55 am
by howard male
I'm really just trying to ask questions rather than answer them, Con.

I think there is something wrong with us all (world music fans included) when we have to rush to get something which will be part of the material universe for the rest of our lives. What's the rush? Answer me that - I think it's symptomatic of a deeper, unacknowledged malaise at the heart of our culture.

And that thread you posted a link to, says it all. However you will notice I wasn't part of the rush for an A &M CD, I just added my usual philosophical interjection.

But I am aware of the rabid consumer in me, trying to get out, and I really do try to fight him. I simply see no reason, for example, to own a film on DVD, when I am unlikely to want to see it more than a couple more times in my life.

I'm now noticing TV shows getting a DVD release before they've even finished their run - Dr Who for example. Why don't people just tape them or wait for the repeats? Madness.

Someone should start a charity initiative which persuades people to think twice before buying a DVD, CD or advertisement-packed glossy mag, and instead donate the money to a struggling third-world country.

PostPosted: Fri Aug 26, 2005 12:08 pm
by ritchie
[Someone should start a charity initiative which persuades people to think twice before buying a DVD, CD or advertisement-packed glossy mag, and instead donate the money to a struggling third-world country.]

That's how I feel with the issue of 'file sharing' music. I would willingly donate money to some charity etc. instead of paying exhorbitant prices for cd's.

Can you imagine if this was set up and the money donated to 3rd world countries how much they would get?

It would solve a few problems and probably cut down on the 'hype' in advertising records.

If I was clever enough I could see an opening here![/quote]

PostPosted: Fri Aug 26, 2005 12:25 pm
by jayne
I really would love to get enmeshed by this thread, but I’ve got some shopping to do, so just a quick comment.

Often affectionally known as an uber-priestess of consumerism and a must-have mercenary, I’m now finding myself increasingly less likely to rush out and buy things. I’ve started to enjoy what I’ve already got. This year I turfed loads of books and felt liberated. Cassette recordings are next. I now use the library and requisition anything not available locally. The fact that I may have to wait a couple of weeks or a month is no great shakes; in fact, deferred gratification is highly underrated. Last week was a first: I borrowed a CD .

This weekend I’ll be meeting some chums and one of the first topics of enquiry will again be; “Have you got the new xxxx yet?â€

PostPosted: Fri Aug 26, 2005 12:45 pm
by Con Murphy
jayne wrote:I really would love to get enmeshed by this thread, but I’ve got some shopping to do.

Can't it wait?


PostPosted: Fri Aug 26, 2005 1:05 pm
by Tom McPhillips
I'm not going to mention anything about the fact that the main (but of course not the only) reason the music we like gets recorded is that we buy it.

Damn, I mentioned it...


PostPosted: Tue Aug 30, 2005 8:47 am
by David Godwin
Possibly only tangentially relevant to this strand, but I have to get off my chest a long standing obsession of mine. Tomatoes. We are repeatedly urged to feed our children fresh fruit and veg, but the excuses for tomatoes that lurk on, or rather infest, our supermarket shelves incense me. Watery, tasteless, aneamic - you get my drift. If you go to the driest, dustiest town in Turkey, all the fruit and veg is far better than the stuff that's served up here. But especially the tomato. And so, a proper tomato is a real treat for me when I go abroad. But there's more to it than this. I am told that the EU exports subsidised lemons from Portugal to Turkey. Hence, the lemon growing industry in the latter country is in decline, whilst produce of no better quality is being bought up by its consumers. As I understand it, Turkey does not have access to our markets - but would this not access help less developed countries in a better and more sustainable way than financial aid, even though that is important? and at the same time, we would be giving our kids (and ourselves) better quality food than that offered on our supermarket shelves.