Tuesday, April 13, 2010

I Like That Boom Boom Branding!

Late last week there was an article in The Wall Street Journal on the Black Eyed Peas that really got me thinking. The gist of the piece was about how the group has become "the most corporate brand in America," a pop juggernaut that somehow manages to appeal to grade school kids, corporate CEOs and my grandma ("as long as that hussie Fergie keeps her clothes on").

And while many musicians not named Gene Simmons would balk at the idea of being associated with marketing terms like branding, reach and demographic, will.i.am throws them around like it's... well, his job.

"I consider us a brand," he said in the WSJ. "A brand always has stylized decks, from colors to fonts. Here's our demographic. Here's the reach. Here's the potential. Here's how the consumer will benefit from the collaboration."

Wasn't it always the record label executives who were supposed to be the big bad guys throwing around words like that? I realize musicians have endorsed products for years, but this just felt a little different to me for some reason... Clearly there is no such thing as "selling out" in today's musical landscape, but at what point does the artist/group/band go too far?

I had a great discussion with a great friend a while back about musical integrity and the decay of music as an art - a form of expression. His stance was that music has pretty much never been an art, but instead, more like a competitive sport. Bands (or groups, singers, etc) compete with each other to see who can write the "best" songs in order to get the highest amount of airplay, the best venues and the most fans. So if one buys this argument, then music truly is a science, not an art.

But what about those musicians who write music because they feel uncomfortable or incomplete when they don't? Or the people who write music because they have to, regardless of whether one or one million people hear it? Or the people who write music for no other reason other than they like to write music? Those are the people who maintain music as an art form in my humble opinion. And if they happen to make a few dollars in the process, more power to 'em.

So what's the point of this? I'm not sure to be perfectly frank. I do know that I can listen to my favorite song a thousand times and not get tired of it... and that has to mean something, right? Maybe you can give me some insights (ahem, comments, ahem).

Don't forget to come back for The Ride at 4 p.m. or so. We'll be waiting for you.

- TS


  1. Good call on the Butch Walker video! I think music is so special and intimate for so many people and when a musician makes comments like that it kind of trivializes it. Idk if that makes sense...

  2. It makes a lot of sense to me, but then again I'm the type who loves music. I think there are many people who just aren't that into it who would say we're ridiculous for having such passion about the musicians we choose to listen to... On the other hand, are there many people who listen to the Black Eyed Peas to draw inspiration for anything other than shaking one's ass and "getting retarded?" Me thinks not. :)