21 thoughts on “Innovation in branding”

  1. Weezer have dropped off my radar in the years since their post-Pinkerton “comeback”, so I’m with Richard Tol in just ignoring their new releases and ejoying their first two albums. However, at least Weezer’s new albums aren’t accompanied by a media hype machine like some bands — *cough cough* U2, I’m looking at you.

    I would definitely contribute a few euros to a similar break-up fund for U2, since everything they’ve done since Achtung Baby has been not only disappointing but annoyingly shoved in our faces as the next greatest thing. As Henry Rollins often says, U2 write “music for people who have lost the will to rock.”

    Who’s with me?

  2. Pork & Beans in is a decent 2008 Weezer song. A more granular approach would be appropriate for Weezer’s later discography.

  3. Offering bands money to stop provides a perverse incentive for them to produce terrible music. If Weezer’s next album is even worse, will their former fans pay even more to end this abusive relationship? Seems to me to be an inefficient inversion of the Polluter Pays principle.

    The clever thing to do would be to stop buying music you don’t like.

  4. The last album release to go Diamond (10 million sales) in the US was Usher in 2004. The number of Diamond record in that decade is only about 5 or 6.

    This makes me wonder – is 10 million too generous? The economic of contemporary music imply that Weezer would never make that sort of money even if they did pull another masterpiece out of the bag.

    @ PK – only “old people” say that U2 finished with Achtung Baby!!! For me – Zooropa blows everything else they did out of the water – Maybe I am too young to appreciate the Joshua Tree full.

  5. “The clever thing to do would be to stop buying music you don’t like.”

    Seemingly people have stopped “buying” music altogether – even stuff they do like.

  6. @Kevin
    I guess I’m showing my age. I never understood why Zooropa was so revered. I would love it if I could ignore U2 and they would just go away, but that doesn’t seem to work. I don’t buy their albums or concert tickets anyway.

    It doesn’t matter if Weezer write another masterpiece like Pinkerton and they won’t, since the whole reason Rivers Cuomo went into self-imposed exile and re-emerged determined to only write 3-minute pop songs is because Pinkerton was, at the time, a commercial failure. It only built up a major following over time. This would lead me to believe that although we would view a one-time payment of $10 million as too generous, the band’s leader would prefer the steady income that releasing an unexciting album and corresponding tour every 18 months provides.

  7. @PK – I should have added a smiley. I used to love U2 fanatically, but I went cool on them after “POP”. After that I have trouble telling one album apart from the other.

    In fact I dont really consider anything put out in the last few years to be considered what I call “Serious Rock”. Maybe Rock has just got nowhere else to go. (Hopefully some promising young bands may yet proved me wrong).

    I think the matter of how the economics of music was affected by the internet is a fascinating subject. The economics of making music must have some effect on what is being released. While there wont be a huge contract like Robbie Williams EMI contract, it makes it easier for band , who would have been dropped if in a previous generation, to remain as financially viable going concern.

  8. KOB – I don’t think so

    Most promising young bands break up long before becoming viable these days. Rock is boring because the young groups can’t survive.

    It is extremely difficult to achieve the crtitical mass of living from downloads, CD sales are collapsing, touring is stressful and a financial lottery for small unknown groups.

  9. @Fergaloh

    I should have specified the bands who get signed and get to achieve a moderate amount of success (like Weezer), rather than the local bands who play the likes of HardWorkingClassHeroes.

    The probability of a young band getting to a stage where it is self financing was never anything higher than slim.

    You do raise an interesting Issue – Are we going to run out of New Music.

  10. @fergaloh Rock is boring because most “fans” are too lazy to look for the innovative and interesting acts making music in their spare time and at huge personal sacrifice. Hence, young bands lose out on an audience that might enjoy what they do, chicken-and-egg and so on.

    @KOB In a word, no.

    http://dublinhardcore.tumblr.com/
    http://diyirishhardcorepunkarchive.blogspot.com/

    See link if you’re interested in grass-roots punk rock right here in Ireland. There is no economic or financial incentive for these bands to exist but they keep putting out records for their niche audience anyway.

  11. Cormac is right. we can’t reward failure; otherwise u2 will game us.

    We need to be able to sell weezer derivatives. if it was possible to devalue their stock (where royalties are dividends), they might lay off. perhaps a stock market where one can buy/sell perpetual claims on royalties? a speculative attack of magnitude inversely proportionate to pitchfork rating might be disincentive enough…. this isn’t working.

    just don’t buy bad albums. also maladroit is ok…

  12. @PK
    Perhaps I shouldnt have made such a sweeping statement as proclaiming the “End Of Music”. There will always be music bands of course.

    The question is : What are the prospects for these young bands in the internet age? How many records will they sell? How much money will they make? Will they make enough without crazy amounts of touring? Will they pack it after an album or two. Will they reach the new “gold standard” – 10 million likes on Facebook?

  13. @Enda
    Apparently, the fan wants to protect the brand.

    There have been attempts by football supporters to buy their club, but this case is different.

  14. @KOB
    Understood. I guess my point is that “new music” comes from people (usually young) whose values are not alligned with the music business and therefore they are not asking themselves the questions you pose. Sure, many of them would love to make a living from what they do (and they probably dream about this), but many do not and pursue their musical endeavors to the detriment of their own economic interests anyway. They’re deriving their utility from making the music itself. At some point values and priorities change (marriage, family, getting fed up with living on the road most of a the year) and the band members have to decide if it’s worth it to go on. Some bands hit it big and it’s worth it, most bands don’t. But even the bands that don’t go on leave behind contributions to their genre and sometimes these contributions are massively influential.

    For many young bands, the prospects look like this:
    – practice and make recordings with own money
    – utilise online social networking
    – build online following through free distribution of music (Myspace, blogs, etc)
    – find label willing to front money for recording of album
    – tour endlessly to flog album and repeat
    The rest is just a hard slog to get by, it seems.

  15. @PK
    I used to work in a rehearsal studio and know quite a few musicians dealing with these issues firsthand. Experience has shown that most bands never really make it past step one. The median lifespan of a band is something like 2 years, and that is being optimistic.

    Steps two and three need to matched by some serious touring to build up a following worth speaking of, if there is to be anychance of getting signed.
    Even then – the contracts are pretty meagre.

    This is a massive subject area – the economics of arts and music. Maybe we concentrate on the top strata of musicians first. They are the ones most affected by the internet revolution.

  16. Any chance this notion could be extended to football? Must be lots of Liverpool fans would pay good money to shorten the season.

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