Fiona Apple To Label: Back Off, I'm Connecting With My Fans
from the the-internet's-got-this dept
We’ve written about the tangles of singer Fiona Apple and her label, Epic (a Sony imprint), for years. Back in 2005, Epic refused to release her album, because it “didn’t hear a hit.” Instead, the album leaked and started getting radio play, which got fans excited and, finally, Epic felt compelled to release it. The NY Times recently had an article about her latest album, which has actually been done for well over a year, but has been “held up” by shakeups at the label. However, what may be most interesting is a section where they talk about her recent appearance at SXSW, where her management basically told Epic to stay the hell out of the way and not do anything:
“The Idler Wheel” is counting on the devotion of Ms. Apple’s fans. Before she appeared at South by Southwest her manager, Andy Slater, said he told Epic Records: “ ‘I want you to do nothing.’ I said: ‘Don’t make any posters. Don’t make any cards. Don’t put out a single. Just don’t say anything. Let her play the show. It’s been a few years. Let kids go to the show, film the thing, put it on their blogs, and you don’t need to do anything.’ ” Almost immediately after her set amateur video clips were on YouTube.
There are a few interesting things here. First of all, we’re always told that musicians need the big labels for “marketing” purposes. Yet, here’s an artist specifically recognizing that the way a label does marketing can actually make things worse, not better. On top of that, what she (or her management, in this case) clearly recognize is that the way to really do “marketing” these days is to connect with fans and then trust them — not treat them as criminals. Notice that no one wanted the label to release a video or put the music on YouTube. Instead, they full expected and were happy with the fact that the fans filmed the show and put it on YouTube. The same YouTube that is still being sued for a billion dollars for letting people do that. The same YouTube that people tell us needs to be more proactive in preventing the fans from doing exactly what they did and exactly what Apple appears to have wanted them to do.
There’s a big point here. If we shut down sites like YouTube, or force them to pre-block any and all content without proof of copyright or license, this kind of very, very successful marketing wouldn’t be possible. Instead, you’d have nothing but Epic doing its thing — which everyone seems to recognize would lead to a worse result for the artist…