Sunday, October 24, 2010

The continuing conquest of cool

A NYT article (“Looking to a Sneaker for a Band’s Big Break”) says lifestyle brands are fast becoming the new recording labels. Converse, for example, has set up a studio in which young musicians can make new recordings for free. Companies will sponsor different aspects of the music production, marketing, and distribution process, and sometimes acquire songs to give away at the own web sites. The overall strategy is for the youth-oriented brands to become patrons of hip music stars and thus acquire “coolness by association.” In the past, such “arrangements would have carried a stigma for the artists,” being seen as a sellout to the evil empire. Now they are embraced with casual enthusiasm. A hot female musician confidently proclaims: “Music is everywhere now, and if you have it tied to a brand, there’s nothing wrong with that.” The article mentions that the new largesse Converse and others have adopted is part of a more general strategy aiming “to infiltrate the lives of their customers on an ever deeper cultural level.” But never mind, we cannot really expect young musicians to connect those dots, can we? Even if some boast college degrees.