Most of the broadcast projects I've been involved in over the last two decades can in a sense be considered straight-ahead enhancements to moving picture, game play or venue experience. Nevertheless, it was in the mid nineties that I began formulating my own uniquely formulated Brand Theology, and not long after that, that I began chasing Broadband video as it emerged from Madison Alley (Madison Ave + Silicon V/Alley, i.e. the ad tech community) byte by precious byte, well before anyone thought audio would ever get small enough to enhance the web experience in any meaningful way.
More recently –in this millennium– I've positioned myself as a creative consultant. As such, I'm asked to consult individual artist/ entertainers who believe my once so-close-to-the-sun and you'll-get-burned-proximity to brand imaging (via music production for advertising, and as a founder of a pioneering interactive audio shop) might also make me capable at providing them with some insight how to reverse engineer the publicity process in order to fuel their own creative careers.
Along the way, I've had occasion to coin the rare phrase, and redefine others which had already found their way into limited circulation, if only as a means to explain myself with necessary clarity. I stumbled through a lot of now dead ideas, but a few things I got right. Today, even if the exact phrases that I chose aren't in wide use –Rock Brands, Medici Model, Camelback Collateral and Strategic Audio Partnerships– the ideas they represent are indeed present and certainly living large.
Most people I speak to seem to be gravitating towards using a variation of the phrase 'New Music Model', 'New Music Paradigm' or 'Music 2.0'. I think all three terms are rather neutral, –a sort of non descriptive nomenclature that doesn't quite reveal anything. Fine for a cocktail party, but otherwise devoid of content. But, sure, you'll catch me using one or the other on occasion as a kind of short hand when I know the person/s I'm addressing are already well acquainted with what those terms might imply.
Music 2.0 suggests a new version to replace the current version. But the terms I chose collectively describe aspects of what I originally conceived as a parallel 'music industry' –one where independent musicians thrived using a modified 'Medici model' –whether that meant accepting a role where public endorsements were required, or in my own case, accepting work-for-hire commissions in order to pay for 'my art'.
The Medici model isn't my own invention, and its meaning is widely understood by those who know the history of the Medici family and their patronage of the arts, between the 13th and 17th centuries. Ever since, DIY musicians and artists since then have been trying to find ways to reignite its potential so that they might be able to survive our capitalist construct, integrity intact, but sans Industry.
Enter the Internet, and the Medici model is actually viable again, albeit on a more significant scale.
SOLD OUT OR SOUL'D OUT?
In 2001, a few weeks after the World Trade Center fell, I produced a group of New York Metro area session musicians and singers, under the banner Gotham Artists, in the production of a tribute song. Despite it's limited '01/'02 release on the now defunct MP3.com site ((it now lives a quiet life on the Garageband site), I continue to receive appreciative email complimenting our efforts and the resulting music.
I'm telling you this because the tools you have now, from home studio equipment to social networking sites to YouTube, all mean that you and your musical vision stand at least an equal chance –and in reality a very great possibility– of touching another soul on the other side of the planet.
And that's all it takes.
In many ways we live in a Post Sell Out World, but it still hasn't lost its heart. Get your music out there and don't worry about being too harshly judged. Ultimately, art is an experience of self discovery. If you become an international global pop star in the process, more power to you.
BRANDING WITH AUDIO AND BEYOND
So with that in mind, I'm kicking 2008 out and 2009 in with a recap of what I think were some of the most prescient articles this author has published in the first few years of the new millennium.
The third article listed below, Branding With Audio, was published by an industry trade back in March of 2001, and represents one of the first widely read articles on Sonic Branding.
"Do you know what your company is saying right now?"
You can read some version of this phrase on just about every music house, audio branding company or composer website today, but prior to the publication of this article you would be hard put to find even industry insiders asking it. Not like I'm a futurist –a term I utterly loathe– but given my background and interests, I simply arrived at the question before most.
I include the article on this list because while it was written for an audience of account executives and marketers in mind, it concludes with advice I think is (still) applicable whatever side of a co-branding agreement you may be on, artist or executive:
"Branding beyond advertising means creating an experience that is free of an overt pitch yet is compelling enough that consumers will nevertheless identify it with your brand. If you've produced a CD, for instance, folks will listen to it while they eat, work out, make love, and your company will be the underscore to their lives. Oats may be oats, but if I'm making babies to your music, then chances are my babies will be eating your oats".
Agree or disagree, either way, I hope it provides continued food for thought (no pun intended). It's 2009 – you don't need a multi national to fund your project in order to draw fans from around the world.
here's to making a big noise in the new year,
* * *
From the Critical Noise Archives
From YR 2000
ROCK BRANDS: Tomorrow's Rock Star Marketing Partners
From YR 2000
Convergence And The Composer
Originally published in Shoot Magazine, August, 2000
From YR 2001
Branding With Audio
Originally published in Clickz, March, 2001
From YR 2003
EXPERIENCE: Traditional Packaging Not Required
From YR 2003
This is Where the Story Ends
From YR 2006
Music as Collateral: Using Audio to Add Value
From YR 2007
Music as Collateral: Compatible Archetypes