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Thursday, March 26, 2009

The Who factor

Earlier today, I thought about something that’s been tickling me for quite some time. Do you ever feel that some songs you love didn’t get the exposure, success and recognition they deserved? Well, I often do.

Whereas in most cases, a success is a subtle mix of luck, of good promotion, of being “at the right place at the right time” and of a consistent answer to the public’s expectations and taste of the moment, I also think that sometimes, the “who” factor is crucial. What I mean is sometimes, no matter how good a song is, if it’s not sung by the “right” artist, it can be completely unnoticed. This is often the case with artists whose careers have been long and successful in their first years. People kinda lost interest in them and therefore, anything they release fails to make the impact the song/album objectively deserves.
Of course the assumption that “if the song is good, it will be successful no matter what” is valid, yet I’m sure it has its limits. Unconsciously if the artist isn’t as hype as he/she used to be, people will tend to judge their work with a rather biased eye. Like “well it must be like the stuff he/she released before” or “oh, him/her again! How boring!”.
Does all this mean that we’re too focused on the packaging and not enough on the content? Is the content not worth a try even if we’re not attracted to who’s behind it? I must admit I’m really curious on that matter, both as a (sometimes biased but often unprejudiced) music lover and as a former marketing student. Is that why the image is so predominant in music?

Making that “who” factor even bigger are the labels’ choices concerning marketing budgets. The more important the promo campaign, the bigger the impact. Well unfortunately the big campaigns are most of the time for big names, whereas smaller acts in need of exposure would benefit a lot more from a big push. So there again, the natural selection of which song or album becomes a hit is considerably biased from the start.
Thank God our time has brought a whole lot of promotion tools on which major labels have little influence, such as blogs, web radios, forums etc. This new order of things (anyone being able to say what they like or hate, and being potentially heard by the whole world) seem to be a pain in the ass for some music execs, unfortunately. How many e-mails have I already got, telling me not to even write about an artist? Even without saying how crazy this is in terms of freedom of speech, I find that pretty incredible that the majors still didn’t get that an uncontrollable promo campaign is now part of the game…

Now let’s play a little game to illustrate all this, taking examples of songs recently featured on It’s Pop!. What if…
- Coldplay had recorded Starsailor’s Tell Me It’s Not Over?
- Kylie’s latest single had been Little BootsStuck On Repeat?
- SugababesNo Can Do had been a Girls Aloud single?
- Kizzy Star’s Out Of Control had found its way on the latest Killers album?
- Roisin Murphy had submitted some of her latest singles to Kylie?
- Rihanna had any of Madonna’s Hard Candy songs on her own album? (as if she needed more hits…!)

I could go on like this for hours. Instead I’m asking you, dear readers. What song do you think should have been a hit but missed the train to success for any reason?

Competely unrelated, but fun anyway: remember that Britney "My pussy is hanging out!"-thing from a few weeks ago? Well, some guy made a fun song out of it. Download it here!

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