The Fall of Communization and the Rise of the Music Fan

It has become very apparent that when author, marketer, and blogger Seth Godin talks, people listen. In his Ted Talks video "Sliced bread and other marketing delights" he covers a wide range of topics that I would like to expand on today.

He argues that at the heart of spreading ideas is TV and stuff like TV. Within the system that he calls the TV-Industrial Complex he explains the process of how early companies figured out how to spread their ideas by buying ads, which got them more distribution, this allowed them to make a bigger profit, and they then turned around to use the money to buy more ads, thus completing a cycle.

He goes on to say that companies used this complex to touch people in a way that they weren't expecting, in a way they didn't necessarily want, with an ad over and over again until they bought that product. What the marketers who brought us the likes of Fruity Pebbles and Pop Tarts have found over the last couple of years is that these old ways are no longer working. Record Labels used a system very similar to this idea, but they of course added a few steps.

1. Release the single 3 months before release
2. Pay mass radio to play song, 3 times an hour
3. 1 ½ months before release send MTV and Fuse video
4. Release album on a Tuesday with other popular artists
5. Rise up the billboard charts
6. Use profits to buy more distribution and tour support
7. Release the second single 2 months after release
8. Pay mass radio to play song, 3 times an hour
9. Top the billboard at #1
10. Make second video
11. Start tour of the United States
12. Halfway through, release third single
13. Make third video
14. Finish the tour dates
15. Use whatever money the label didn't take to go on three year journey
16. Find your inner self before continuing to work on second album
17. Do it all over again

What record labels found out years after CD Release Complex stopped working, their money had been spent, and the bands they threw at pop radio no longer stuck is that the environment of the music industry had changed as well. No one cared about what they had to say. In a world where people now have way more choices and far less time, the obvious thing happens, people start ignoring you.

To bring this full circle, in the YouTube video "An anthropology introduction to YouTube" professor Wesch highlights that there is a cultural inversion happening where people are becoming increasingly individual and the more individualized we become, the more we value this sense and want for community. We become more independent yet long for stronger relationships. There is commercialization all around us; therefore, we now seek out authenticity.

This cultural inversion that he speaks of is a perfect example of how the way people interact with music has changed. Many of us have developed very diverse and complex listening habits. We now form communities around our favorite bands, we want to establish a connection or relationship, and we have a strong desire for music that is real, authentic, and meaningful.

As music fans we are now walking in a crowded room where everyone wants our attention and what happens naturally is that we've tuned out the frequency of noise in our lives. The permeability of the walls we put up around ourselves now only lets certain messages through. You now have to be smarter about what you do, because it's no longer as easy to buy your way into our headphones.

What relationships are you building, where is your community, what connections are being made, how authentic is your message?


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