1234

A while back, maybe a few months ago, I posted a music video from Feist’s song “1234”. Now this song has become virtually inescapable thanks to the Apple ad for the new iPod Nano. When I first saw this ad, I was really excited for her. Her most recent album is fantastic and now getting the attention it truly deserved.

What’s incredibly interesting, at least for me anyway, is how it took a tv commercial to make this song the hit it deserves to be. A blog that I’ve recently discovered and has quickly become a daily read is by a music industry analyst (maybe ranter is a better word) named Bob Lefsetz. He made some brilliant observations regarding this commercial and how it is an example the lack of exposure of great music by conventional music outlets. Here are some tasty bits (pardon the french):

Once again, we don’t have a piracy problem in the music business, we’ve got an EXPOSURE problem. Leslie Feist’s album was released on May 1st. It was a must buy amongst hipsters. But those not in the know had NO CLUE! All it needed was a bit of exposure.

Back in the day, as the kids are so fond of saying, radio would have given this record a chance. Maybe featured it on a “Smash it or trash it?” segment. That was back when radio was run by innovators, when the program directors were music fans as opposed to wannabe general managers worried about ad sales. Or when we were all addicted to FM stations that were the heartbeat of society as opposed to calcified museums of what was played THIRTY YEARS AGO!

You wonder why we can’t sell music? BECAUSE THERE’S NOWHERE TO HEAR IT!

Oh, believe me, if they had the VMAs NEXT WEEK they’d feature Feist. But a month ago, if her label had called up Christine Norman she would have LAUGHED! Our RESEARCH tells us our audience is not interested. She’s too OLD!

But then Apple makes the record a hit, and EVERYBODY WANTS HER!

Isn’t it funny that “1234” sounds NOTHING LIKE what’s on the radio. But APPLE chooses it for its ads. Aren’t major corporations supposed to play it safe? Go with brand names? FAMILIARITY? But that wouldn’t fit with Apple’s image, as a cutting edge corporation. They need the new and different.

I don’t want to get into a deep analysis of commercial tie-ins. Unlike the labels and agencies who tell you you should just make the deal, it’s VERY COMPLICATED! Depending mostly on whether it’s about breaking through or going on a victory lap. What’s more interesting is how the pillars of the business have lost their way, are in decay. The majors won’t sign and promote a Feist. Radio won’t play it. And brick and mortar retail won’t stock it. In other words, you can’t hear it and you can’t buy it. Great formula for success.

Let’s not revel in the success of “1234”, let it be evidence how fucked up things are. It’s not about radio and TV now embracing the track and the act, but figuring out how we can make it easier for the public to hear new and different music and ACQUIRE IT!

As someone who seeing things from a band’s perspective, I certainly don’t fault Feist for licensing her music to Apple for the ad. As Lefsetz points out, most of the conventional outlets for getting music out there are totally broken, or severely neutered at best. Bob is also right, no radio stations touched that song before it was on the Apple ad. MTV or VH1 wouldn’t have even pondered giving the song a chance (even though the video is pure genius). Simply put, these kinds of opportunities are becoming the only ones left for artist these days to get their music heard. Even the critically acclaimed band Wilco licensed a song to Volkswagon for a commercial.

It’s fascinating (and scary) what’s happening in the music world. At least we’ll have Bob Lefsetz to entertain as we collectively nose dive towards our doom. 🙂

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Priorities

Correct me if I’m wrong here. But by my calculation, more U.S. senators (72) voted today to condemn a newspaper ad attacking Gen. Petraeus than voted yesterday (56) to lengthen the time off troops get from the frontlines in Iraq, thereby reducing individual soldiers exposure to actual attacks. Am I missing something, or is that about right?

–David Kurtz from a post today on TPM Media

Oasis

For the past year or so, my family and I have been attending Trinity Mennonite Church in Glendale, AZ. I’ve wanted to share to some extent our experience because it has indeed been an amazing one. Like many of our friends who might be considered “post-modern immigrants”, we’ve been wandering for the past few years in what has seemed to be a very desolate and sometimes lonely landscape. By “post modern immigrant” I am generally referring to those who have developed a holy dissatisfaction to the typical American Christian Church experience and who are left searching for a new way of experiencing Christian community. My wife and I, as well as many of our friends, have emerged from a evangelical mega-church context into a state of limbo, not sure what the next step would look like. That state of limbo began to slowly evaporate the day we stepped into the Mennonite tradition for the first time.

What’s been fascinating to us as we’ve learned more about our new church community is how the Mennonite tradition is a welcoming oasis for those who suffer from the fatigue of the conventional american evangelical landscape. If you are allergic to the slick “American Idol”-like worship, the Mennonite tradition of 4 part harmony hymns sung beautifully by the entire congregation will floor you. If you lament the nationalistic, patriotic emphasis of many American churches, the Mennonites could tell you story after story of a government that hasn’t always been so friendly to those who follow Jesus and practice peace. As amazing as these stories are, and I’ve only heard a small portion, they don’t come up often. It’s with an amazing humility that these first hand accounts are shared. They almost need to be begged out of them. These are just a couple of examples of many, I could go on and on. What’s been made pretty clear to us is that what many from the “emerging”/”postmodern” context are longing for (a new way) is actually not a new way at all. It has been with us all along, for hundreds of years, in the Mennonite tradition.

This past Sunday, during the sermon time our pastor interviewed four members of the community; two of them were lifelong Mennonites and the other two are new to the Mennonite tradition. I highly recommend checking out this sermon audio because it represents really well something happening in our congregation. Trinity Mennonite is attracting people from all over the valley who’ve discovered what a special place it is. Because of this attraction, there is now a growing influx of “post modern immigrants”, like myself, who are blending into a community of life-long Mennonites and learning so much from this beautiful tradition.

It’s exciting what is happening and if you live in the Phoenix area and in any way resonate with what you read here, I encourage you to discover this amazing community of people.

“That part of the world….”

The fine folks at TPM media posted a story about Bush’s use of the term “That part of the world” when referring to the devastated New Orleans region. Check out the story here.

I wonder why he uses that term? It’s as if in our presidents mind, New Orleans is overseas or at least very far removed from his “world”. And what exactly makes a place like New Orleans “that part of the world” to President Bush. Is it the geography he’s referring to or the economic climate of the region?

Maybe it’s no wonder that his administration has been so inactive in restoring the gulf coast region in the aftermath of Katrina. To them, it’s just so darn far away. I live in Arizona and I find the president’s choice of words troubling. I wonder how those in “that part of the world” feel? ugh.