It happened again. Another record company has tried to market a new artist as an “internet sensation”, except this time, they could not get away with it. The Wall Street Journal broke this story about Mary Digby, a Disney-backed singer songwriter who went around telling everyone: “I NEVER in a million years thought that doing my little video of Umbrella in my living room would lead to this . tv shows, itunes, etc !!!”. Notice how even her web site looks like she did it herself with carefully blurred photos and that ever elusive “web 1.0” ghetto feel.
This latest incident led me to reflect a little bit about the current state of artist promotion.
Been There Done That
The thing is, record companies always promoted their artists by pretending that they did it on their own. They’ve long recognized that fans did not like to feel being manipulated. Not appearing like being “commercial” is actually part of the act, from Radiohead to Bob Dylan. Anyone remember the name of managers and record companies behind these acts? See? What we do remember are the stories of how their popularity grew “organically” from nothing until they became the superstars we all know.
Zappa Says Thanks
Then there’s Frank Zappa. He was so grateful for the support he received early in his career from the great Ahmet Ertegun (Atlantic) that he named one of his son after him. Zappa also understood something else: that by starting his own label, he could do his own promotion and make more money even while selling fewer records. That’s the thing with record label promotion: if it has to look like you’re doing it yourself, why not go ahead and do it yourself – for real?