Tec9-56a7d6793df78cf77299cb0fI’m not really sure that the title works for this article but I just like it as a pun* and that is all that matters in the grand scream…I mean scheme of things. Perhaps it says something about ambition, how success starts off small, maybe it alludes to word of mouth promotion and the like. If so great. If not, so what. As Shakespeare said “the pun’s the thing…” it’s just a shame later editors tinkered about so much its his literary Danish pastry and left out his best jokes. Anyway, to horse…

So today’s subject is written music promotion, something which forms a fair chunk of my work, though not so much at the moment with gigs grounded and all musicians having been sent to their room, but in normal times a large portion of my day is spent making bands sound good, writing about gigs, selling tours, devising press releases, conducting interviews and generally wrapping a few more sets of ears around the music and band at hand.

One of the smaller avenues I use for this is via fiverr, a piece-work platform where people can buy your services a job at a time. It is via such sites as this that bands purchase either promotional reviews (ie writing which reads like a review but is essentially positive) or general press release writing and the like.

Of late there has been a real change in the nature of the work there. A year or so ago most people contacting me would be asking for something that they can link to their website, re-post, gather pull quotes from, a word salad which bigs them up, and so I would ┬álisten, scribble, post, job done. What has been interesting, and perhaps worrying, is that much of these jobs coming in of late are people asking something along the same lines…”can you make my video go viral?”

The simple answer is, No! For a start that is digital marketing, I’m an old-school writer. Secondly, surely the job of the artist is to write the best song that they can and let it sell itself rather than throw together any old dross and let the marketing department hoodwink people into believing that they can’t live without it? Obviously I explain that such jobs are not my area, though what I really want to say is “Viral? You’ll be lucky if the rest of your family even want to listen to that.” But it pays to be professional.

I will add at this point that a large majority of the music taking this line is from the US, is generally rap or trap or R’n’B or something related , auto-tuned to hell, uses the same skittering drum patterns and out of a box electronica and usually starts with either “uhh uhh,” “yeah” or a reminder of the name of the artist as we are now 4 seconds into the song and you might have forgotten already.

So, when and why did we turn that corner? Is fame more important that creativity? Cash more sought after than integrity? Surely if you answered yes to the last two questions you should be working in banking or used car sales rather than music?

I know I’m a dinosaur, I know I am a typist in a video age, a quill flicker in the twittersphere, an alchemist in a quantum world but surely the basic concepts remain true. Write a great song and given the right support, paid PR or otherwise, it will find its audience. Write an off-the-shelf, piece of unoriginality, loaded with cliche and expletives if you like but don’t be surprised if a year later you are still working behind the counter at Whole Foods.

I think it was Confucius who so aptly summed this up when he said “You can’t polish a turd.” Wise words sir, wise words.

*not to mention references to both The Icicle Works and Manic Street Preachers.