There’s music that I’ve bought, downloaded, streamed and stolen, that, in all honesty, I’m now beginning to feel embarrassed about.
Not too long ago, I purchased an album by U2 and one by Pete Doherty. Now, I like both albums and I’ve no beef with the music, but increasingly while listening, the very thought of the singers is starting to impair the enjoyment.
It’s the musical equivalent of thinking about maggots while tucking into egg fried rice.
Doherty, whether it’s true of the man or not, comes across as a prize cock in all his manifestations in the press. And don’t get me started on that half pint of Guinness, Bono.
I just see too much of these people. In their irrepressible urge to sell more records and increase music company profits they, like any other person with too much exposure, highlight their flaws to the world and, inevitably, become fucking irritating.
The more I see the less I like and, eventually, the less I’ll buy.
Not that this is anything new in the music ‘biz’. But it does seem like the noise has been turned up to 11.
The internet and social media have allowed every artist, convinced (or told) of their inherent interest beyond just making music, that they can (and should) connect and offer their gagging audience more and more access.
I know I can switch it all off, and I know it’s my job to embrace this sort of shit. But our industry, more than most, gets a sniff of something good and unquestioningly charges ahead; like an account director with an unsigned expenses form.
All of this made me think of an old friend of my dad’s, Raymond Froggat, a country and western singer you won’t have heard of.
The reason why you’ve never heard of him? Well, he mounted a social media campaign back in the 60s which probably ruined his career (if you judge such things on fame and fortune).
His social media campaign was simple: straight after a gig he would go to the bar to chat, laugh and drink with the audience he had just played to.
This wasn’t your usual Twitter, Facebook, exclusive footage kind of social media; this was the ‘in your face, pissed’ kind of access. Unlimited. Warts and all.
He would act like one of their mates. He always did it. He was just Ray. Completely accessible, highly social.
My dad (not a marketer by trade) told him he shouldn’t have done it; he should build some mystique – you didn’t see Johnny Cash, Kenny Rogers, Elvis, etc, fraternising with the proletariat.
They created ’star’ quality. They acted like stars and let our illusions of them build and they didn’t dare drink with the crowd for fear of obliterating those illusions by becoming ‘one of us, one of the lads’.
Froggy, as he was known, worked with the best, but never made it big. You could argue his ‘content’ wasn’t as good, but with better management he could have packaged what he had into something more desirable, mysterious, long lasting and truly marketable.
Sometimes, perhaps, the best social strategy is not being social at all.
In today’s saturated market it’s difficult to imagine how you could gain any sort of notoriety, fame or success without pumping an artist down the throats of the masses via any tube available.
But maybe that’s why today’s biggest music star is Simon Cowell and not another Elvis.
The article originally appeared on Brand Republic: