EMI Tries Fake Word Of Mouth Campaign To Promote Ok Go

from the yer-doing-it-wrong dept

Well, well. We’ve written about the band Ok Go a few times here, as a band that definitely does seem to “get” what’s going on in terms of how to connect with fans and promote their music well. Many years ago, the band had spoken out against DRM, and, of course, they produced one of the most popular music videos of all time — the famous “treadmills” video. I would have embedded that video here, but Ok Go’s label, Capitol Records/EMI decided somewhere along the line that no one should want to share one of the most viral videos ever, and disabled all embedding. Brilliant.

So, when Ok Go put out a new album with a new “viral video” EMI once again banned embedding, apparently not realizing how this viral stuff works. Ok Go wrote about it, and basically made it clear that they’d tried over and over again to explain this stuff to Capitol/EMI, and the folks at the label simply didn’t get the value of making the video viral.

Well, now, instead of allowing a real “word of mouth” viral campaign with the video, it looks like EMI/Capitol has decided to bootstrap a fake viral word of mouth campaign, by sending around emails (and even submitting directly to us) a request to “get a free Ok Go” song if you just Tweet about it. Seriously. So rather than letting people organically share what they wanted to share, EMI is trying to bribe people into promoting something else.

EMI, you’re doing it wrong.

In the meantime, the platform that EMI is using for this is easily defeated. You have to log in to Twitter Connect via a special promo page, and it asks you to send a specific twitter message about how you just got a free Ok Go song… but you can edit the message to say whatever you want. And, here’s a little trick: if you edit the message to be more than 140 characters, it doesn’t actually send to Twitter, and you still get the free song.

And wait, didn’t EMI insist in court that it never authorized free MP3s to be available online?

Anyway, the problem here is that EMI is trying to force people into doing things a specific way (not embedding, must tweet), rather than simply being open, sharing and (perhaps) suggesting they share things if they like with a friend. That’s much more authentic and real. This feels very fake and corporate. You build trust by actually putting stuff out there and seeing how people respond, rather than bribing them and limiting how they can share.

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Companies: capitol records, emi

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Comments on “EMI Tries Fake Word Of Mouth Campaign To Promote Ok Go”

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Marcus Carab (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Things don’t just “work” and “not work” – they work to varying degrees. We’ll never “know” which method would have worked better in this specific situation, we’ll only know how the one they choose works out. Thus we are left to use things like common sense and comparison/contrast with other strategies to attempt to determine what the right choice is. Since you are incapable of employing your higher reasoning powers, I don’t expect you to understand.

R. Miles (profile) says:

Re: Re:

They are only doing it wrong if it doesn’t work. You don’t know that yet.
Regardless if it works or not, the mere fact one channel is shut down to support this one only goes to show how limited-thinking EMI is.

The goal, as a business, would be to get BOTH to work.

Any company which supports a single “product” is doomed to fail. Let me know if you’d like to see a list of company’s who felt this rule didn’t apply to them, especially those who were funded by our tax payer dollars through a bailout loan.

Alan Gerow (profile) says:

Re: Re:

They’re calling what they’re doing a “viral video”. For what they are doing, it’s not a “viral video”, but EMI bribing people to Tweet about them. As such, for what they say they are doing: they are doing it wrong.

As a general marketing strategy, yes let’s see if it works before saying it’s a failure. But if they claim to be doing a “viral video”, they are doing it wrong, because that’s not, by definition, what a “viral video” is.

mertz says:

Re: Re:

they are doing it wrong. ok go has a new record out but i barely hear about it. they ahve an interesting video out that i saw talked about and slammed on reddit, saw it tv once and basically seen it on youtube a bunch of times, but i had to go and find all those links. no one sent it to me. i looked it up because i am still an ok go fan. this is complete backwards ass thinking and implementation from whoever is running that management pr section at emi. so you know what screw them.

The Groove Tiger (profile) says:

Here’s the BS crap open letter from OK Go asking for forgiveness to the fans for the embedding fiasco, while at the same time whining that “the Future!” has made it harder for bands to get their music online, with their lack of paying for plastic discs and stuff.

I’ve lost quite a good amount of respect for these guys.

Rasmus says:

Re: Re: Re:

I checked it out. Long text. I usually don’t complain about long texts, I read them. But this was so boring I stopped reading after after two sections. And then I tried to watch their official video. It wasn’t available in my country. Then I tried to post a comment but I had to be a member to do that. Then I left.

What I wanted to post was an advice to them:

Sue EMI for destroying your brand name and goodwill. Even if you don’t get any money, there is a slight chance you can get out of the contract if you can show a court you had a strong brand name and lots of goodwill in the market before signing with EMI.

Hulser (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Very interesting letter from OK Go. If TD hasn’t already commented in this, I think it’d be worth it.

“So the money that used to flow through the music business has slowed to a trickle, and every label, large or small, is scrambling to catch every last drop. You can’t blame them; they need new shoes, just like everybody else. And musicians need them to survive so we can use them as banks. Even bands like us who do most of our own promotion still need them to write checks every once in a while.”

Yes, yes, you can blame them. And no, no you don’t need them as banks. Bands need a means to fund their studio work and a way to promote their music. But to assume that the recording industry is the only way to do this is just, well quite surprising from a band that has benefited so much from a non-traditional form of promotion.

Hulser (profile) says:

They are only doing it wrong if it doesn’t work. You don’t know that yet.

Whether or not it works is only one factor in the equation. What about cost? What about good will? What about how much it would work? What EMI are doing is stomping out the grassroots effort only to replace it with astroturf. It’s should be intuitively obvious to the casual observer that a grassroots effort that came about organicially from fans would be cheaper, more well-received, and far more effective than a manufactured effort by the record label.

So, literally speaking, yes..we won’t know until we see the results. But do you honestly believe that an artificial campaign will work better than what OK GO experienced with their first viral video? That was a proven success. Why mes with it?

ant anti mike says:

its a lie

but once you hear that they aren’t paying artists does peopel that used to buy wish to?

NO they dont they too join us pirates and thieves and steal .
thats what they say to remember were the thieves.
funny that any money i have ever paid in Canada has never gone to any artists.

AWW can’t just make a 6 billion or more lawsuit go away if they get found guilty of commercial piracy which they have been effecively doing the law is a lot worse at damages then 6 billion
it could be well over 60 billion thus erasing the last ten years profits
20000$ per infringment item
think 30 songs is liekly about 2 albums
then think 300000 artists ONLY DOING ONE ALBUM?
haha yea math here gets all wacked as the price goes well beyond what they asked civilly which shows that the artists in this case arent being greedy

HOWEVER CANADIAN LAW says its illegal what the CRIA DID
and it also punishes them with 20000 per infringment the fact the rcmp do nothign about it, no raid no charges no invesdtigation
proves that the feds and cops are colluding some how
ask your mps why there isnt an investagation

Hephaestus (profile) says:

They just dont get it do they?

I have never in my life seen such self defeating actions. The share holders of any of the big 4 that are publicly traded should sue these companies board of directors. God, what absolute stupidity.

Why arent they even trying something new? here are some suggestions.

1) Ask your artists fans what they want.
2) Dont count on ACTA to save you.
3) Try something new, anything.
4) Ask you artists what they want.
5) Dont believe the statistics your own people come up with they are biased to show piracy is the cause. Hire an independant research firm to figure out what is causing the demise of your labels. But you really cant do that, can you? It would prove its your own actions that are killing you. Denial … get over it …
6) Ask your artists fans what they like and dislike about you.

Anonymous Coward says:

They are doing it wrong.

I saw the video a while ago did wanted to share it with my friends but wasn’t able to due to EMI’s request. I’m not going to send everyone emails about some video I saw on youtube, I embed it. That is how things work these days. I don’t know how many of my friends have seen the video but I do know if they had allowed me to embed the video it could have potentially been seen by 150-200 additional people.

thisremindsme says:

way off topic

there was an album released in the early 80s with a band title GO. This was actually a contractual cherade as the “band” included Steve Winwood, Al Dimelo, Jack Dejonette and several other unbelievable musicians that had been contracted to play a couple of shows in japan (one of which was taped apprently). I used to have this album and lost it in college. I have never seen another copy or run into anyone else who knows what Im talking about. Anyone here know anything about it, I have been searching for about 15 years now LOL.

Matt says:

I like CR/EMI's attitude on this.....

Its perfect. If an in my opinion When it doesnt work the band can acctually sue for wrongfull rep. or something to that effect. Also (like I said my oppinion) when it does go wrong it will be full proof that thies corperations are loosing ground by stareing into the past and noone will put there faith in big corp buisness. And the giant falls. I love big corps. they give alot of people jobs but when they have bricks for brains well mabie that buisness should die. bye bye

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: You can embed the video

You just have to go to Vimeo to do it. They don’t have the ridiculous licensing agreement with EMI that YouTube does. Ok Go hates to have to use them, since they have a much (much much) smaller market share than YouTube has.

That’s the new video, and it’s not authorized by EMI. I was talking about the old video in the original post.

Rachel says:

Maybe if you look at it another way...

What if the band were doing this independent of their label? OK Go does that a lot. Would you still have the same level of disgust if this was an experiment the band were trying for themselves?

I’m an independent musician myself and all of the blogs I read are saying “You have to give your music away for free, and that sucks, but you should ask for something in return.” Usually they suggest that you get an email address for your mailing list, but having someone tweet a link where they can get a copy of the song for free as well doesn’t seem like too much to ask.

I hadn’t for one second thought that this was their label’s doing. I’ve been a fan of OK Go for a long time and this smacks of their marketing style. For the record, they currently have two free tracks for download. A live version of White Knuckles is available via the tweeting method and the marching band version of This Too Shall Pass is available in exchange for your email address. Being that these are not the album versions of the songs, the label doesn’t have the same level of control over the tracks that they would otherwise.

Hate the song and the band all you want and snark as much as the internet can handle, but you can’t fault a band for trying different ways to get their name out there.

Rachel says:

Re: Re: Maybe if you look at it another way...

But I don’t think it *is* bad. Listeners say “Hey we want free music.” Band says “Sure, but can you do us a favor and tweet that you’re getting a copy of this song for free?” Listeners say “OMFG WHY YOU WANT SO MUCH?!” Where is the logic in that? A Lot of money goes into producing music. I know, because I’m in it myself and a LOT of my money goes into it, and I’m not making too much in return just yet.

Is it so much to ask that people who enjoy a song spread the word? And if you’re so offended by having to give something back, well then, delete the tweet or unsubscribe from the mailing list. You’re out exactly nothing.

Chronno S. Trigger (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Maybe if you look at it another way...

Might I recommend that you let your fans spread the word the way they want to, not the way you force them to. If they want to send a message threw Twitter, let them. If they want to embed a Youtube video, let them. Forcing them to do everything your way will stop people from doing it at all.

I know I won’t be getting this song, I dropped Twitter a long time ago.

Rachel says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Maybe if you look at it another way...

I would have to respectfully disagree here. People respond very well to automation. You know how Political Action Groups give people form letters to send their congresspeople about whatever cause they want to promote? People have the option and are encouraged to edit that form letter, but most of the time they happily click and send without a second thought. Same goes for this. As referenced in this very article, people have the option to edit the tweet to be whatever they want, and “if you edit the message to be more than 140 characters, it doesn’t actually send to Twitter, and you still get the free song.” So again, I have to ask where the harm is?

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Maybe if you look at it another way...

“You know how Political Action Groups give people form letters to send their congresspeople about whatever cause they want to promote?”

I wonder what the number of people who get those letters and follow the instructions is vs. the number of people who ignore them. Why such a thing for something as organic as spreading word about your favourite music needs to be contained in such a way is beyond me.

What we’re seeing here is EMI (or the band) restricting and banning the organic ways of advertising their product, then trying to funnel word through pre-approved channels that mimic the originals. Why care whether the word gets out via Vimeo, YouTube, Twitter, last.fm, Facebook or whatever, as long as the word gets out and people are interested in the music? Restricting channels is foolish in a digital modern marketplace.

“”if you edit the message to be more than 140 characters, it doesn’t actually send to Twitter, and you still get the free song.” So again, I have to ask where the harm is?”

Well, just from that one sentence alone, the label are losing out because the supposed free promotion they’re getting in exchange for the track isn’t happening. Fans who don’t use Twitter lose out because they don’t get the opportunity to get the track (there are numerous reasons why a person wouldn’t want an account, even to get a “free” track) – whereas such people may have been willing to embed the YouTube video. The band lose out when both of the above groups lose out.

:) says:

Re: Re: Re: Maybe if you look at it another way...



After you tweet the IFPI/RIAA/ASCAP/BMI got after your account on tweeter and send DMCA’s, C&D’s and get you kick out, that is nice.

Yay! then some law firm send you invoices demanding money or else, that is good too.

After that ASCAP goes and send you invoices too. Brilliant.

Then you have your house stormed by people claiming to be the law and confiscating your stuff and dragging you to court, that is wonderful.

Then you are labelled a thieving self-centred human being without morals that should be beaten to death that is fine, no problems.

Why would anyone let a band signed with EMI be forgotten is beyond me.

Seriously, anyone who signs with the major is owned respect and money because they bring nothing but happy feelings to the world.

Rachel says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Maybe if you look at it another way...

You seriously need to calm down a bit.

1) Read the op/ed linked at the top of this blog, where the lead singer of OK Go says flat out that people need to be able to hear the music in order to become fans.

2) The songs being given out for free are NOT the album versions of the songs. Therefore ASCAP/BMI/the label don’t have the same influence.

3) Someone at the label, upon seeing my tweet about having downloaded the song, then RTed it to her followers to get them to do likewise. So I’m not seeing any opposition there.

I’m not a proponent of the labels, I’m just as disgusted as you are with them. I’m just saying that bands need to find new ways to make a living and they shouldn’t be faulted for trying something that gets them a little word of mouth in exchange.

:) says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Maybe if you look at it another way...

Not suggesting it happens already.

Story of a guy who was arrested and had his home raided because he had a website that linked to content on youtube.

Raids in Sweden being conduct after months after a law was passed, and only now being processed, people are being arrested just for the accusation.

Others are using this as a way to extort people.

Law firms profiting from the situation.

By the way, does the band own the rights to their music?
If no then there is no “band” there is only EMI’s interest which they will protect very jealously.

The copyright holder is EMI probably and they will track people down and do nasty things to them or their proxies will because they lack the capacity to make a coordinate effort and they already proven that more than a thousand times, just ask blogers from googles blogger service 🙂

The band have no rights, they sold out to EMI, they are owned by EMI and any money going to EMI is just feeding bad people.

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: Maybe if you look at it another way...

What if the band were doing this independent of their label? OK Go does that a lot. Would you still have the same level of disgust if this was an experiment the band were trying for themselves?

The email was directly from EMI.

I hadn’t for one second thought that this was their label’s doing. I’ve been a fan of OK Go for a long time and this smacks of their marketing style.

Again, the email was from EMI.

:) says:

Only the stupid promote EMI artists.

What EMI is doing basically is covering people in honey and throwing them onto a hill of ants.


If you blog, tweet, message, e-mail, podcast, videocast about you get nastygrams, DMCA’s and C&D LoL

Probably and invoice from ASCAP too 🙂

Use Jamendo folks with a CC by NC-SA 3.0

At the very least you can go in front of a judge and say honestly that you didn’t infringe on anything and was led to believe it was legal, if you use anything from the music industry and their indie proxies you will get in trouble.

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