Digital sales of Adele’s GRAMMY-winning “Rolling In The Deep” totaled a cumulative 6.68 million as of the week ending Feb. 26, making it the biggest-selling digital song of all time by a female artist in the United States, according to Nielsen SoundScan. “Rolling In The Deep” is also the second-biggest-selling digital song of all time overall, behind the Black Eyed Peas “I Gotta Feeling,” which has sold 7.82 million.
HE TOOK THE WORDS RIGHT OUT OF MY MOUTH.
Its true. Pop today is only lyrically discussing the club scene. We are deprived of subjects that are universal which is why artists like Gotye are selling so well.
Thank you Gotye for pointing this out because no one ever seems to listen to me. Then everyone jumps on the bandwagon later when I’m the one who’s been saying it all along.
Gotye’s ‘Somebody That I Used to Know’ and Jack White’s ‘Love Interruption’ both tackle love, but in much different ways.
Simplicity in songwriting can often speak volumes about the emotional strength of the person laying bare their soul.
But what may appear on the surface as something very basic can be a complex myriad of emotions.
Such is the case with Gotye’s “Somebody I Used to Know” and Jack White’s “Love Interruption” — two very different songs, with two very different takes on relationships.
Belgium-born Gotye gets a little help from singer Kimbra. It’s a moody, Sting-esque confessional on which he sings about the pain of breaking up and dealing with the aftermath of being nothing more than a distant memory — accompanied by light guitar strumming and accentuated by a xylophone in the chorus, which ends with him lamenting, “Now you’re just somebody that I used to know.”
Kimbra provides the girlfriend’s point of view on why the relationship crumbled— a rarity in pop songwriting when it comes to break-up tunes. Usually we only get one perspective, so it’s nice to hear a back-and-forth played out in song.
“You say you could let it go, and I wouldn’t catch you hung up on somebody that you used to know,” Kimbra fires back. Gotye responds, ”But you didn’t have to cut me off.”
The video — which so far has racked up more than 91 million views on YouTube — follows the stripping-away approach of the lyrics.
The camera is pointed on Gotye, starting with a close-up and then moving above his torso. As he delves further into the song, various colors wash over his chest, arms and face until he is completely covered and blended in with the wall behind him. The effect — a neat trick that combines stop-motion with old-fashioned artistic visual wizardry — is a clever contrast to the song’s bleak tone.
“Somebody That I Used to Know” feels familiar yet completely fresh and exciting — a sign that alternative music isn’t afraid to take chances and neither is Gotye.
For Jack White, the former White Stripes guitarist, love becomes the brutal, but welcome, enemy in “Love Interruption,” the first single off of his upcoming album “Blunderbuss.”
White, too, keeps it basic. He lets an acoustic guitar and keyboard drive a haunting melody as the lyrics take center stage.
“I want love to roll me over slowly/stick a knife inside me/and twist it all around/I want love to grab my fingers gently/slam them in a doorway/put my face to the ground/I want love to murder my own mother/take her off to somewhere/like hell or up above,” White sings.
Whether White views love as his friend or foe has caused much debate on my Facebook page; one friend views White’s lyrical stance as defiant, refusing to let love change him or those around him. Another interprets the song as a welcoming of being enveloped by love in that to feel its painful sting is to know that it exists.
A good song, like any other piece of art, should be open to interpretation.
White accomplishes this, and more, on “Love Interruption.” Like Gotye, he finds strength masked in a shroud of simplicity, covering the complexity and wit of a lyrical craftsman at the top of his game.
At the MIDEM conference, Mark Ronson and Coca Cola Senior Vice President of Integrated Marketing, Communications and Capabilities, Wendy Clark, discuss their creative partnership for Coca-Cola’s sponsorship of the 2012 Olympic Games in London. Coca-Cola’s goal was to create an ad campaign that combined sports and music. Coca Cola approached Mark with a cool proposition: travel around the world recording the sounds that Olympic athletes make while performing their sport and make a banging track out of it.
Wendy explains in this video that as a brand with over 37 million Facebook fans, Coca-Cola is now not just the provider of syrupy sweet caramel-colored beverages, but they are content providers as well. It’s Coca Cola’s responsibility to partner with “master storytellers” to create entertainment that Coke’s fans value. Music is a passion for the teen demographic so it made sense to target them through music.
Coke has been a partner with the Olympics since the 1920s. Their 2012 Olympics campaign is to create a fusion of sports and music. They wanted someone whose sound represents the “London beat” which led them to wanting to work with Mark Ronson who is one of the most successful British pop artist/producers right now.
Coca Cola said “We wanted to create something that talks about the fusion of sound, music and sports.” They wanted Ronson to travel around the world and record athletes and utilize the sounds to make a track. The song evolved the more Ronson traveled to various countries and incorporated various sounds ranging from hearts beating, panting, grunting and swishing of movement, arrows hitting a target as a kick drum to create a beat. Ronson states “I tried to think of each athlete as a part of an orchestra.” He used grunts to create a James Brown percussive sound, the sound of archery as a kick drum and a heartbeat of an athlete running.
For Mark’s part, he sees this partnership as the biggest global exposure he’ll probably ever get. Not only is he representing his hometown of London, the track has to be great because it can either make or break his career, he points out. Mark refers to K’Naan’s song “Wavin’ Flag” that was a huge international success and was top of the Billboard charts. Also Shakira’s “Waka Waka (This Time For Africa)” was also a huge international success for the FIFA World Cup and received thousands of YouTube views.
Wendy also states that not only will this representing Mark as a brand, but if this partnership isn’t going well other artists might not want to work with Coca Cola in the future. The value of brand image goes hand in hand for both the corporation and the artist.
Mark says, “We’ve all seen our heroes [do endorsements]. I think those days are sort of long gone. Jack White did a song with Coca Cola, I mean what are you going to say after about that? I don’t think there’s no kind of thing of “selling out.” Wendy adds, “When we are at our best brands are embedded in culture. If we are authentic to who we, particularly to teens, I think you see them embracing brands and being comfortable with them having brands as a part of their lives. We have to honor that and be authentic. At the same time, young people reject brands who aren’t themselves. Kids and teens see through that so there needs to be a legitimacy there.”
His track is at the center of Coca-Cola’s Olympic campaign, which they plan to activate in over 100 countries. The campaign will include a release of the single, a long-form documentary about how the song was made during Ronson’s travels, and of course countless commercials. The global scale of this partnership is hard to match, but there are two important takeaways: brands now see themselves not only as product providers, but as content providers and if the music is great most people don’t care that it is associated with a brand.
Coke has had an extensive history and relationship with music. They connect music to their brand because music, social media, sports are important to teens, which is the demographic they are trying to target to in order to make this 100 year-old brand relevant to each new generation.
“Music like water” is the phrase used to describe music as a service - usually a paid subscription service - rather than discrete purchases. But how literally should that term be interpreted? A post at Hypebot likens music accessed to subscription service to water in the way people take its low cost (it seems practically free, until you don’t pay your bill) and abundance for granted.
There may be dangers in giving customers a sense that music should always be there, the post argues. Think of how people expect nearly free, clean water without thinking of the costs that go into it. “Entitlement is a symptom of immaturity, and we as a society have a lot of growing up to do.” But “music like water” turns out to be a pretty good metaphor for music - but not for the obvious reasons. If you think subscription services and/or radio fulfills all consumers’ needs for music, you’re overlooking the opportunities that exist to package, market and sell music in ways that meet different needs.
Downloads (and other high-value music purchases) are to subscription services like bottled water is to tap water. People spend billions each year on distilled and purified water even though tap water is plentiful, ubiquitous and inexpensive. Any product, even something as basic as water, can be packaged differently, marketed differently and sold at a premium. Coca-Cola and Pepsi were not dissuaded by the availability of tap water.
They went out and purchased water brands — Dasani by Coca-Cola and Aquafina by Pepsi - and turned something practically worthless into something far more valuable. Inexpensive water is also mixed with, say, tea leaves or coffee grounds and sold at a markup. Artists and music companies can and will do the same with music. On-demand, ubiquitous music will be the foundation upon which other revenue is made. Neither subscription services nor Internet radio will prevent music from being sold in some way as a higher value product.
The New York Times have issued an online debate regarding how unknown pop stars are now becoming famous in about a minute. Is Lana Del Rey ascent a sign that we’re more impressed by hype than talent? Or are media innovations helping to hype deserving but unknown artists?
Those who are pro-Lana Dey Rey argue that her career proves that artists and labels are well aware of the power of the Web to create and sustain fame. Any marginally savvy musician, knows that harnessing the power of the Web, either as a YouTube phenom or by amassing an army of Twitter-Facebook fans, is fundamental to having a career. To me, it is true that social media plays a vital part in harnessing a fan base especially towards a younger demographic. However, if the artist is not genuinely talented, it doesn’t matter how many followers you have. Marketers have shoved low quality music down people’s throats to the point that society accepts crap music as great because they hear the same playlist of songs with the same roster of artists.
Some are on the fence when it comes to the validity of Lana Del Rey. One argues, “YouTube does not make pop stars, they merely serve as tools to reach listeners. Viewers make stars out of viral videos.” This statement is true. Artists such as Karmin, Cody Simpson and even Justin Bieber all got the attention from the industry with thousands of views on their videos.
They continue to argue, “What the real issue is over how fast and loud the Internet echo chamber gets amplified around a new artist. It builds impossible expectations that don’t take much to puncture them such as Lana Del Rey’s SNL debut.” However, I believe if one is signed to a professional recording contract, they should be able to perform at a professional level. If she is not ready then she should not be on SNL or even signed. She should be getting vocal lessons.
One debater states that he “doesn’t think today’s listener values “hype over talent” - of course no one ever admits to valuing hype. If we like an artist, we say she is talented. If we don’t like him, we say he’s overhyped.” I disagree. I think the general public is easily suckered into liking certain artists because of music marketing. If they didn’t Top 40 would not exist.
For new artists, the takeaway is the same as what the Komen Foundation just learned: Control your message. That’s where viral videos and mixtapes and other D.I.Y. media becomes powerful. Under optimal circumstances, it allows artists to shape their own image and narrative before the echo chamber does it for them.
Another debater isn’t on the Lana Del Rey hype train. The music industry has always been a pioneer in hype. And today, with the rapid advancement of social media, hype is hitting new levels. Hype, like social media, is temporary, fleeting and can change course on a dime. That’s why it’s important to understand that hype and talent are not synonymous. Hype without talent is like school without education. You can get by for a while, but then you hit a wall. Albert Einstein once said, “Education is what remains after one has forgotten everything he learned in school.” Well, talent is what’s left after the hype wears off.
Regardless of all the hype, though, there’s never been a more empowering, limitless time to be an artist. Musicians, filmmakers, writers, visual artists and other artists now have the power to integrate means of production, modes of production, branding, distribution and audience in a seamless, streamlined way.
This is revolutionary.
For up-and-coming artists, social media can be useful in leveraging the best deal. In a corporate environment where major labels, notorious for exploiting artists, are scared to take risks, having a large social media following can reduce the label’s risk and simultaneously work as leverage to earn a more favorable record deal for the artist. I recently watched Odd Future, a rap group who started as an Internet sensation, rock the SWU Festival in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Social media, talent and hype made that happen.
The independent rapper STS, on a track called “The Interview,” weighs in on the changing music industry landscape, the responsibility of the record labels and all the noise generated from an oversaturation of amateur artists:
Labels ain’t puttin in the labor
They can’t foresee the paper
All they see is views on the YouTube
And nah I ain’t impressed by these new dudes — they doo doo!
In the end, hype fizzles, talent endures, and the struggle continues. I couldn’t have said it better than myself.
(Source: The New York Times)
So, what happens when you tell your fans that piracy is okay? Even when your major label says it’s definitely not okay? You may just end up with more purchases in the end, and much stronger fan relationships.
The latest pro-piracy message comes from Skrillex told his fans during the winter holidays to pirate his latest album if they can’t afford to buy it. ”Happy holidays just like I promised,” Skrillex posted on his Facebook page. ”Just like i always say, go pirate it if you don’t have money… i just want you to have it… or you can buy it here… either way I’ll love you.”
Skrillex later pointed to the paid versions as being more reliable and higher-quality, especially for fellow DJs. The Bangarang EP was posted just ahead of Christmas, and was initially being sold exclusively on Beatport . And, in classic Beatport fashion, tracks were being positioned for the elevated price of $2.49, with the total 7-song set going for $17.43 (now $1.99/$13.93). Other online stores and radios such as Pandora and Spotify got it days later.
Skrillex is signed Big Beat Records, a subsidiary of Atlantic Records and Warner Music Group. Now was the piracy ploy worth it? Well, now Skrillex is a 3-time Grammy winner and his fans are now loyal than ever, one of which is Dave Grohl of Foo Fighters.
Artists You Need To Know: Gotye and Kimbra
I have totally felt like this song towards someone that I used to know.
“Now and then I think of all the times you screwed me over But had me believing it was always something that I’d done But you didn’t have to cut me off Make out like it never happened and that we were nothing And I don’t even need your love But you treat me like a stranger and I feel so rough”
“Now and then I think of all the times you screwed me over
But had me believing it was always something that I’d done
But you didn’t have to cut me off
Make out like it never happened and that we were nothing
And I don’t even need your love
But you treat me like a stranger and I feel so rough”
One phrase that sums up the NAMM 2012 show is that its a candy store of instruments for musicians. The NAMM Show experience was definitely a big learning experience. I don’t know how to play an instrument and I am not a familiar with many music products. The show allowed me to pick up instruments and just have fun playing with sounds. Regardless if I sounded good or not — it made me have fun with music.
Besides playing with instruments, I was able to see products and brands that I knew or never even heard of before coming to the show. I was able to go to booths and ask questions as to why their product was the best and how it benefits musicians. Most of the well-known brands lived up to their reputation by showcasing quality instruments, mixers, monitors, microphones and more. Also some brands that are currently trendy and popular were, in my opinion, not that great. The show allowed me to compare brands and become familiar with unknown products.
I went to artist signing at the Paul Reed Smith booth to meet Orianthi. I really wanted to see her because I was aware of her many accomplishments such as being the lead guitarist for Michael Jackson on his “This Is It” tour before his death. There are not many female musicians recognized in this male dominated industry, but she has certainly made a name for herself by playing for Prince, Carrie Underwood and Carlos Santana.
I asked her what advice did she have for me to make it in this industry. Orianthi said, “Stay true to yourself and never change who you are. Work really, really hard but never lose yourself. Live in the moment and appreciate everything while you can.” I really valued what she said to me because she is a female that is clearly successful in the music industry. It was really refreshing to see a female who wasn’t sexualizing herself or changing her identity to become more appealing or marketable. Her talent speaks for itself and has certainly made an impression on many legendary male guitarists, especially Steve Vai who discovered her and Santana who stated that if he ever wanted to pass the torch she would be his first choice.
Sometimes I get frustrated that the music industry is shallow at times. I fear that I won’t be ever be given respect because I am a woman. I don’t want my opportunities given to me for being attractive or appealing. I want to earn my opportunities for my potential and skill. Orianthi is clearly an exceptional example. She really inspired me that I can be successful by being true to myself.
Having a creative director can really help shape and mold artistic visions for young artists. A director also helps with packaging an artist whether it be song choices, fashion, logo and overall brand identity. However much is going too far? By not editing creative ideas, it can automatically backfire on the artist, brand and potentially affect brand loyalty.
In this article of Rolling Stone, it interviews creative director and choreographer Laurieann Gibson who has choreographed some of the most visually stimulating stage shows in the pop world. Gibson has gained notoriety as the creative engine behind Minaj’s controversial Grammy performance.
Minaj performed the new track “Roman Holiday” as her nihilistic alter-ego Roman Zolanski, executing the first-ever mock exorcism on the Grammy stage. The performance was not well liked as audience members in Staples Center politely clapped in puzzlement and were displeased. Harsh criticism immediately was being discussed on Twitter such as, “Nicki Minaj really wants to be Lady Gaga and/or Madonna, but she’s trying way too hard. Nicki Minaj = black Lady Gaga. Take notes from Adele, McCartney and just fucking sing. Nicki Minaj is a disgrace to black women.”
Critics were quick to pan the performance for its over-the-top religious overtones and similarities to other church-baiting performances in the name of pop music, among them Madonna’s “Like a Prayer” and Lady Gaga’s “Judas” video, which Gibson co-directed.
The Catholic League blasted Minaj’s performance on their website for its “vulgar” choreography, taking special exception to “a scantily clad female dancer stretching backwards while an altar boy knelt between her legs in prayer.”“To be honest, no, we didn’t do anything for controversy,” Gibson claims. “We never had that conversation at all.
For her part, Gibson was tasked with marrying Minaj’s idea of the exorcism and the Hype Williams-directed video that accompanied the performance. Titled ‘The Exorcism of Roman,’ the video borrowed imagery from the 1973 classic The Exorcist and more recent horror flicks like The Devil Inside.
To adapt Minaj’s ideas for the stage, she looked to the House of Borghese and the Vatican for inspiration. “I love the inspiration of those colors and that architectural world,” Gibson says. “I personally chose to stay away from any religious moves. There were no crosses. There were no religious symbols. We made sure we were very respectable. The bishop was a symbolic figurehead. He was not [intended] in a negative light, but in a position of authority.” Even though Gibson somewhat tried to not affiliate the performance with religion with symbols, her inspiration of Vatican colors, stained glass windows and wardrobe showed that association clearly.
Gibson assumes the reason Minaj’s performance drew so much attention is simply because Catholic imagery alongside pop music just does. “You don’t get press on the other stuff,” she says. “As far as the theatrical and dramatic performance, it’s entertainment.” But if people didn’t enjoy it then its not entertaining, right? It seems like she makes a lot of excuses to defend herself but the way the performance was staged did not sit well with the audience which was a live telecast to the entire world and that can affect how people perceive the artist and affect consumer loyalty.
This isn’t the first time Gibson has been attacked by the Catholic League for her choreography. It happened with her work on Lady Gaga’s “Judas” video. On YouTube the video, which begins with Gaga riding with a biker gang made up of Jesus’ apostles, has more than 127 million hits.
“I loved the idea of Jesus being on a motorcycle bringing them from Damascus to face a situation that might not be so favorable,” Gibson says. She doesn’t see similarities between the Gaga video and Minaj’s Grammy performance. “They are two completely different stories. As far as what I do and the execution of it, that’s great that it is at that level where people recognize the similarities and how I execute for an artist. But ‘Judas’ was a completely different experience. Nicki is extremely unique – it’s a different genre of music. What people are feeling is the similarity in what I do and how I’m capable of breaking a new artist into a competitive field.
“People can’t wrap their head around the fact that Gaga did not do that on her own. She didn’t. There was a Laurieann Gibson. There was someone to execute at a high level in a short period of time. There are a lot of great artists, and the fact that we did that in such a short period of time was a huge blessing.” Gibson makes a point at this part of the interview. A lot of people do think that Gaga does everything herself. The original idea is hers but a creative director is the one that channels those ideas in a way to make them both creative and marketable.
Before choreographing for Lady Gaga and Nicki Minaj she choreographed dance moves for Missy Elliott, Diddy, Alicia Keys and the Jonas Brothers before becoming a creative director. “A choreographer deals with the movement that you create,” Gibson explains, “and with a creative director it’s about the story, the stage, the lighting, the costuming, executing someone’s idea, choosing how far to go or how little to go, and blending it so that you feel it, you’re emotionally effected.”
Asked if she feels she is molding the pop stars she works with, Gibson says, “Molding them from a place of love and wanting to see their dreams come true. With Lady Gaga I really stretched myself as a creative director, and because I was with this artist from before she got signed I was able to really take control of the opportunity and execute as a creative director.” Being able to channel what the artist want to say and making it creative yet marketable is one of the key elements in branding an artist. Laurieann has done this well with her roster of artists but was Minaj’s Grammy debacle a wrong move?
In a moral sense, yes. Also was it appropriate for that award show? MTV, yes. The Grammys, no. However, the negative publicity has paid off, boosting anticipation for Minaj’s next single, “Starship”. After all, a little controversy never hurt fellow rappers like Eminem or Kanye West. As for Zolanski, this isn’t the last we’ve seen of that character. Minaj is currently writing a story and movie about her alter-ego, and Gibson confirms that they have other projects lined up together.
A lot of people do not realize that these artists have creative teams. The ideas or inspiration may come from the artist but how it is produced is through a creative director. The director has to be on point with the latest trends, think of ways to reinvent what has been already done, know what is the next upcoming trend and most importantly edit. If the artist and the creative director are not up to par they can automatically become a market cliché or lesser quality star. The creative director can make or break careers if they make one small mistake or create controversy for promotion.