Thursday, May 20, 2010

Awful marketing ploys of our time

Look, I get it. The music industry is on its knees. We need to come up with new ways of promoting, consuming and monetizing (urgh) the whole business. In that regard, I'm all for experimentation. But just because you have an idea, it doesn't mean you should follow it through. That's why you don't brush your teeth with corned beef "just to see what happens".

With that in mind, whoever is responsible for the following video needs to be sterilised. Using mainly spoons.

Dizzee Rascal - Dirtee Disco (Official video with commentary from Dizzee)

Several problems immediately arise here.

First, the concept is flawed. Dizzee is supposed to provide insight into the video's storyline - but the storyline is an unsophisticated, one-note joke. By the end of the VERY FIRST LINK, Dizzee has said everything useful there is to say, leaving him floundering with pearls of wisdom like "now we see some people doing different things".

Also, commentaries are supposed to happen out-of-sight, in voiceover. Dizzee, however, appears on camera, forcing the director to cut away from the music every 15 seconds.

Towards the end, the song is building to a rousing crescendo when everything suddenly grinds to a halt so the MC can inform us "this is the grand finale". No, Dizzee, it might have been the grand finale if you hadn't interrupted it like an arsehole. Now it is just a tedious 10 seconds of misery before you pop up again for your jovial pay-off. And by jovial I mean cretinous and shit.

Don't get me wrong. I like Dizzee Rascal. His cartoonish persona and equally cartoonish vocals have done wonders for rap in the UK - finally allowing our home-grown hip-hop artists to step out of Amercia's shadow.

The problem here, I suspect, lies with the record company. You know how, when under pressure to impress an attractive girl, your brain approves of wildly irrational actions like pulling their hair, challenging their boyfriend to a fight, or pretending to like Sex And The City? Well, the record-buying public are that attractive girl, and the record companies are your brain.

Somewhere down the line, a meeting has been held where otherwise rational, civilised people decided that - less than a week before Dirtee Disco was released - it was a good idea to withhold the video from YouTube. I suspect they've done an exclusivity deal with an untraceable "media partner", trading exposure on a website that gets two billion hits a day for one that handed over £50 in a grubby envelope.

Realising this might have been a mistake, the label has worked out a way to get the video onto YouTube without breaking the terms of their contract. Only now they don't have time to do it professionally. That's why Dizzee has been filmed on a camera phone, without proper lighting or a microphone, by someone who has only a basic understanding of how to frame a shot. Then the phone ran out of batteries, and no-one had brought the right charger, so the first take had to do, even though Dizzee wasn't ready and made a few mistakes.

Et voila, a horrible bit of "content" to keep the fans happy on YouTube. Someone will get a raise because of this.

Obviously, all of the above is pure speculation, but it's better than the alternatives. Which are (a) they genuinely think this is acceptable, or (b) everyone involved in Dirtee Disco thinks it's a bit crap and is trying to divert our attention.

Mind you, they got me to write 600 words about it on an occasionally-read website, so the campaign hasn't been a complete disaster.

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