Added Value (and a Free Drumkit)

Its all about added value these days. The recession makes things tough - and a music industry losing its identity and touch with its "product" makes the situation even worse. If people can get what they want for free, what are the triggers that will make them reach for their wallets? 

Simple - give a little bit more back and watch what happens ...

Like what Josh Freese is doing with his new album - where he has created a scaled value approach to his package. It starts with a digital download of the album at $7 ...

Upgrade to the CD/DVD package at $15. Climb up from there to $50, where Freese will call you himself to discuss the album for 5 minutes. I have no real interest in his music (yet) - but even this prospect entices me. A fantastic, personal - even affordable! - way to give back to his fans. Why stop there when for $75,000 you can get the top of the line limited edition package - which includes, amongst other things, Freese's drum kit and a limo ride to Tijuana.

Fresh, inventive - and as a marketing concept, so much more exciting than a million pound poster campaign. Apparently the $20,000 limited edition package (which includes any 3 items from his closet) is already sold out ...

Image from ianinhertford on Flickr


Measuring Success

The Guardian ran a story a few weeks back on measuring success in the music industry, pondering the question: how we will be able to judge achievement if people won't pay for music?

The piece is actually an exploration of the various revenue streams in the business, focussing on the lucrative (yet unpredictable) synchronisation in TV and video games. The theory is that these deals can stimulate artist popularity, which drives album sales.

So ultimately their premise is still that success should be measured in sterling. Advertisers will pay six figures to license music - does this mean the track or artist is superior to one that has not been synched? If we are moving into an era where music could actually be free to the listener, surely this method is no longer valid? 

Technology affords us the possibility of measuring success differently - the passion index. Last.fm demonstrates this perfectly - counting track plays from listeners around the world - even allowing the user to mark which tracks they love the most. With music, the more you love it, the more you listen - so isn't this the ideal indicator for success?

In an industry at the tipping point of change, its time the entire rule book was thrown out the window.



Been (yet another) really busy couple of weeks, and little time to keep up with all the things that bring one joy. I seem to be amassing quite a backlog of blog worthy tidbits (everything from the Age of Stupid release, to the Guardian's analysis of measures of musical success - more on both later). Thankfully quite a bit of new music has also found its way onto my pod ...

I've been anticipating new albums from both Fischerspooner and Röyksopp for ages now. Its a quandry when you get a double hit of fresh music at once. It only took one listen of each for the dominant album to become apparent.

Hands down my scrobbles have gone to Entertainment by Fischerspooner. I found their last album - Odyssey - to be highly underrated. So fresh and minimal, such clean, perfect electropop. But with an edge of sophistication and experimentation clearly lacking from the contemporaries that beat them to the chart positions. 

Where some may have initially criticised the group as an indulgence in theatre-turned-pop, or flavour of the month electroclash, Fischerspooner have demonstrated their resilience. Having split from their major label I wondered if we would see more of them - and thankfully they return with an album that is instantly delicious and difficult to switch off.

Entertainment follows on where their last effort left off. Its a logical progression, but one that builds on their songwriting craft. Echoes of early Depeche Mode ("In A Modern World") and OMD ("To The Moon") give a nostalgic edge to the work, but the sublime, crisp production keeps it firmly grounded in the now. Perfect pop like previous Kitsuné single "The Best Revenge" only affirms their pop sensibility, while the pseudo-shoegazer tones of "We Are Electric" demonstrate that they continue to push the boundaries of the niche.

There are hints of recycled themes here (including what I am convinced is the slowed down riff from "Emerge" in "Money Can't Dance") and politics disguised within the musings of Casey Spooner. And though his vocals are at times veiled in production the entire package works tirelessly. 

As for Röyksopp's Junior - an initial disappointment that will stay on the shelf for awhile longer I'm afraid.


Introducing the Pet Shop Boys ... for Every Daily Mail Reader ...

I caught a TV ad yesterday afternoon for what appeared to be a Pet Shop Boys greatest hits compilation - featuring a bonus new track. The resolution of the videos seemed rather cheap and the track selection obvious - but this was not directing us to follow up the Pets' Brit Award by picking up Pop Art or Discography. We simply need to buy today's Mail on Sunday to collect our free CD.

Clearly someone has lost the plot. 

We know that Middle England loves the gays. Well, as long as they remain a safe distance, aren't having sex, stay away from our children, and camp it up in the style of Graham Norton or Michael Barrymore. But how hypocritical is it for The Mail unleash their vile homophobia throughout the week, only to reward readers with a free gift on the weekend from openly gay artists?

And what is Parlophone's strategy? How much have they spent on the cover mount deal (not to mention the prime time TV ad slots) to promote their celebrated act to the conservative middle class? If the intention is to market the artist to the widest group possible in advance of the Pets' new album, then I propose that the team at Parlophone go back to marketing school.

Partnership deals between the press and labels are now the norm - you almost expect your complimentary CD or DVD with the weekend papers now. But like any brand association, if the two products don't relate, the consumer will fail to develop trust with either brand - and the marketing is therefore ineffective.

I can't imagine that the Pet Shop Boys sanctioned this relationship. I hope heads will roll at Parlophone on Monday morning.


Disco Not Disco (1974-1986)

Stumbled across a great little release on the resurrected home of rare grove Strut records ... Disco Not Disco (1974-1986)

Every track on the compilation is an influential classic - including tracks from Shriekback and Gina X. What really took me back was "Sharevari" by A Number of Names - which was a staple of Miss Kittin's sets and one of my first ever Gigolo twelves (of course that was decades after it was initially released). Some rare gems here - compulsive listening.