Is It A Problem If People Only Discover A Musician Because They Have A Cool Kickstarter?
from the uh,-nope dept
One of the things we’ve heard for years, whenever we talk about awesome marketing campaigns and business models that musicians and other artists have put together, is that it’s somehow a “shame” that the artists are getting attention for the campaign/business model, rather than the art itself. Even Amanda Palmer expressed some concern about this in a recent blog post:
the weirdest thing right now is that everybody KNOWS about it. i’m now famous for my kickstarter.
which is a little depressing. i wish that i could steal all that enthusiasm and high-fiving i’ve getting from strangers in the street (literally) and re-route it to the album when comes out. i don’t want this album to be remembered as “the kickstarter record.”
i do want this record to explode. and i want this record to explode because it is awesome.
There were definitely similar concerns about things like Radiohead’s In Rainbows, where some said it’s only known as the “pay what you want album.” That said, Palmer immediately points out that she’s not too hung up on this, and discusses repeatedly what a “fucking game-changer” Kickstarter is for the music business.
However, it did seem worth focusing in a bit on this point to think about it some more. Is it really that big a problem if people know you for doing something innovative that is indirectly connected to the art? I don’t think so. The biggest challenge for many (probably most) artists these days is obscurity. They need ways to stand out from the crowd — and often that goes beyond the music.
But none of that eclipses the music entirely.
Sure, some people may focus on the business model or the marketing efforts, but that’s a fantastic conduit to the music. The only reason I learned about Amanda Palmer in the first place, years ago, was her efforts to get out of her major label recording deal, after the label (Warner Music) took her own videos down as part of their fight with YouTube. And, obviously, she’s done lots of other interesting things that matter to the community here as well. Since first learning about her, however, I’ve become a huge fan of her music as well (and discovered that she puts on a fantastic live show).
Basically, everything that you do as an artist to stand out still leads back to the work. And the best gimmick in the world isn’t that effective if the art isn’t amazing too.
It’s what we’ve said in the past: no marketing, no gimmick, no trick will “work” if you’re not also producing awesome content. Sure, there will always be some people who support you for doing something cool in how you present yourself. But, as our critics always like to remind us, the art itself is still central. And no one’s denied that. But we take it for granted that if you’re going to make any of these new things work you also have to make good content. And if you make good content, but attract attention for a successful Kickstarter, it’s quite likely that a bunch of those people will become true fans of the music (and the artist) as well.