Results tagged “advertising” from Andy Best

Festivals: more competition nonsense

Image: click for large version

I've already written a piece on local advertisers and their role in the scene here, focusing on Vice/Virtue and it's an issue close to my heart. But then something coincidental happened. After reblogging a point made by Twin Horizon and using Jlangmead's cartoon (pictured), my band received an offer to participate in exactly the same kind of thing.

Recap: a disturbing new trend around the world is the use of design competitions to not pay artists. The cartoon sums it up perfectly. The world of advertising and PR is a rabbit hole of denial and insular thinking and the whole concept has started to be applied even without dressing it up. Local designer Kaine Lv, also singer in my band, recently started work on a project that was attained after presenting her professional portfolio and going through stringent background checks. She was then told mid-way into the work, that the boss wanted to check new designers so he had more than one person working on the same project - and would choose the best one (and only pay that one.)


On Saturday, my band Astrofuck played our first long set. I organised a night at Yuyintang and we had an hour of material to choose from, we played forty-five minutes (plus banter etc). It all went great, we had a fun time and I felt we successfully showed we could plan and perform a longer set. This was, it seemed, immediately borne out. As soon as we got off stage, we were approached to play the Xi An Festival (Shanghai). They have permanent grounds down by the new Xu Hui river park and Cui Jian will headline this year. This will be the second year and they have sponsors and everything. Now, actually, I'm not a big festival person and there are many issues ... but I admit to being a bit excited, and it felt like validation of the step up we were trying to make.

And then ...

We went out back to discuss the details and exchange contacts but another story unfolded. The guy explained that the festival had a sponsored Weibo account and that we should use our own Weibo account to make posts there and show our vids and blogs etc. Then, they would 'see who was most popular with the fans' out of the invited bands and choose winners who would then get to play on the bill with Cui Jian. He looked at me and Elsa with an expression that said, 'that's so exciting for you, right?' I asked him to tell me what the deal would then be if you played, but he avoided the question. Finally I said that we'd have to discuss it as a band so could he e-mail me the whole thing in writing, including the dates and pay for if we ended up playing etc. of course, the e-mail hasn't arrived. He left reassuring us that we should first get involved in the Weibo event and go from there.

Where to start? This festival is holding an online event to market itself and its sponsors and is asking bands to put all their stuff there for free, to attract interest to their site and event, to bring in the bands' fan base, and then maybe you will be selected to play and get paid for it. It's basically the same thing as the art comp issue. Also, the really sick thing was wrapping it up in the implication that we should be happy to do that because we get to play on the same bill as 'X big headliner'. Like we are good enough to be on their site and play the festival, but not enough to deserve professional respect.

Let's be clear: the free stuff posted at their Weibo is being used by them for a professional, big-money-making, fully sponsored event. It is being used to make money. Also, local bands spend one or two years on average to get good, all on their own dollar and part-time. Their original material is their work. At our show there were four acts and everyone killed. I would say that HIMDONG blew the stage up. But the festival rep only approached us so here's what I'm assuming: he saw our set and thought we were good enough to play the Xi An Festival - or at least cool enough to be in their online event ... so, if we are good enough to play your for-profit high profile event THEN BOOK US and pay us fairly. 

I suppose what really makes this behavior sting is how it's always wrapped up in the language of respect. I mean the whole industry. They talk of cool bands, 'creatives' and supporting local talent etc. But they in fact treat bands and artists poorly. At best they pay a poor percentage of the project's overall profits or budget and expect to be praised for providing the opportunity to work for a big name, or for paying over slave wages local rates. Not paying at all is the new low, how could you go lower? As long as people participate in all this BS, the longer it will go on. We should at least be vocal about it and not let these a-holes feel comfortable about what they are doing.

Friday 24th show: Fuck Cancer, Fuck City Weekend

There will be a special charity show at Harley's Bar in Xu Jia Hui on Friday May 24th ... called Fuck Cancer Fuck City Weekend.

Here is the show's Tumblr with all the details.

Yes, City Weekend Magazine. It all started with Mike Herd's speech that I talked about a little here. Now it's a small stand for sanity and integrity. Standing up for yourself is important, I wrote about this in detail recently here.

Before you dismiss it as juvenile or sensationalist, the points on their manifesto are very clear and relevant to all the nonsense that goes on with the ad agencies and PR companies too. The main points are: Misappropriation of the music scene - using the scene to lend an air of knowledge or cool or whatever to themselves, that sounds familiar. No journalistic integrity A.K.A. corporate sycophancy - putting brands and revenues above the understood values of writing and reporting while passing it off as honest. Shallow engagement with their subject material bordering on willful ignorance - another one that can be attributed to the ad people who have no actual interest in the ideas and values of artists and musicians, or the world they live in ... while constantly bleating the opposite. Refusal to address feedback from their readership - except with passive-aggressive attacks or flak, of course. 

Whether it be this specific example, concerns with ad agencies like Virtue / Vice, W+K et al or with direct issues on the scene like B.O.s Midi piece. The point is that we don't have to bow to ridiculous concepts like it being 'bad form' to not accept this BS for fear of hurting their feelings. It is bad form to call out or challenge people down the hierarchy, that's bullying and dangerous ground. But calling out people with power is a duty. Especially when they are taking the piss out of you.

Ad-man bullshit in my backyard

I've been meaning to write something like this ever since I unknowingly paid to be on an ad shoot set run by cunts here:

The reason I've held off is because, painfully, writing this just feeds the ad machine even more. Fuck it.

This is about advertising and where it intersects with more grassroots culture, especially around me. My example, both from that show and in this post, is Vice Magazine and their ad agency Virtue. 

Vice magazine, through their agency Virtue - doublespeak at its finest there - do this: "We help global brands find new ways of communicating with the world's youth. " So lets be clear what VICE Media actually do. They gained a huge audience of young people who shun the mainstream media and cannot be accessed easily by corporate giants via their edgy writing and imagery. Then they created Virtue and said, hey, we got 'em, now we'll take your money and help you to sell to this previously hard to crack bunch. Not only is that disgusting in principle, but they go on to use all the latest underhand methods to do said selling.

This brings us to Noisey and The Creators Project, both of which they operate in China and it was Noisey that was set up in the show that day. They call Noisey their 'music portal' but both those projects are there for the purpose of advertising, no matter how softly, their clients. They are no different in purpose to any pop up on the net or crass ad on TV. In this case the clients are Dell and Intel, at least in China where I have come into contact with them. These are adverts and the people doing the 'projects' are salesman.' That is all. 

Now, there are two main ways of thinking about this and I will present an alternate to my own view, to be rational and fair. And I'm talking about art or songs that were firstly created as an independent work and were later approached for inclusion in an ad. Firstly, you may be of the opinion that mercenary advertising for a client using your art or material cheapens what you do and breaks the trust with your audience - and that the whole sales business is crass and best avoided. But, you may also be of the opinion that it's fine, normal and maybe even a viable new model for the music scene to generate revenue. 

In the first case: you should see the Virtue projects for what they are and shun them completely. Do not put your videos on their site, do not invite them to your shows, do not participate in their events. Fuck them.

In the second case, there is also an issue. If you participate in Noisey you are doing professional advertising work for Intel/Dell and one of the biggest media groups in the world. You should be paid. Not only should you be paid, you should be paid a fair share of the projected revenue of the ad campaign and/or project budget. Don't think for a second that those projections and numbers have not been meticulously worked out prior to said campaign. You need to have access to those figures when you cut your deal and you need legal representation too. If your work is on their site for free or some tiny fee, you are being exploited ruthlessly by terrible people. 

In either scenario, artists need to know their facts, be clear what they are dealing with, and stick up for themselves.

What does selling out mean?

station agent
Update: Brad F has a response here where he takes issue with my logic and adds some new points on the topic.

Dinklage sez: I sort of learned not to accept those roles, where I'm playing a sight gag ... 

We, as organisms, have the ability to reflect on our world and lives and express ourselves. It's a natural state, it just happens. Art represents the many ways we communicate these ideas to others.

Once we were living in large enough communities, several issues came up. One biggie is art in the service of power. Like propaganda. Some fellow coined the phrase the pen is mightier than the sword. Another issue is art used to sell things, or the intersection of art and commerce. This is especially relevant today as we live in a global consumer age and the people who run it have the power. What effect does all this have on music and the cultural communities around it?

This is nothing new or controversial. Talking about these issues shouldn't bring up shock, panic or defensive behavior. But, I find that when I bring this idea up, especially in relation to the actions of PR and advertising companies in arts communities, it causes a lot of fuss - predictably, from people within the advertising/PR community themselves.

One rebuttal I often hear is that selling out is a dated concept and there's nothing wrong with making money from your work. 


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