Looking at the world of media: from music to RIA.

Blinded by the Hype

September 8th, 2006 Posted in Distribution, Film, Music

According to most of the bands and artists I know, the Internet is going to break them into the spotlight.  They saw how big the Arctic Monkeys got by using the Internet to establish a massive fan base that shot them into the number one slot in the UK top 10 the day their album released.  Gnarls Barkley broke all kinds of records by launching their single via digital download and becoming number one.  The Internet is the future of music success and its easy… just get you music out their, create a huge MySpace/MP3 Blog buzz and you are making money hand over fist…  or are you?

Recently, one of the fastest spreading Internet memes to hit the web was the brilliant OK Go treadmill video.  The link to the video spread so fast that within a day everyone I knew had seen it and I was not even passing out the link.  People where remixing the video and even did a Lego stop animation video of it.  This was a marketers dream and it was huge, huge exposure for OK Go.

So now that everyone knows about the band you would think that a segment of those exposed would buy the music, right? Well, according to the band and the label its not translating so well and it is actually a huge challenge to tap into the Buzz and turn that over to sales.

This isn’t just in the music space either, the movie industry has the same challenge.  Look at the huge Internet hype "Snakes On A Plane" had.  This had such amazing Internet backing, blog hype and meme-madness.  T-Shirts were being sold out, forums were being dedicated to SoaP, hell the script and title were even driven by the Internet.  But in the end, it only made $15.3 million on the first weekend.

… for a horror film, the $30 million movie performed respectably. But analysts say that the movie’s failure to match its hype may dispel the notion of the Internet as a wellspring of untapped moviegoers. Instead, they say, Snakes‘ performance demonstrates that cyberspace is simply another place to put movie ads.
‘Snakes’ rattles Web hype, by Scott Bowles, USA TODAY

These are not the only examples either.  Many bands have reported having thousands of friends and hundreds of thousands of plays but aren’t seeing growth in music sales.  I don’t proclaim to know the root cause but I believe some of the factors rely on the actual user base and how MySpace works.  Anyone can be someone’s friend, in fact spammers are now offering to buy MySpace accounts from people with more that have more the 20,000+ friends. Your MySpace friend list doesn’t necessarily represent a real tangible fan base that is willing to invest money into music.  There is also misconceptions on plays… anytime someone hits your page a song is played.  So popularity of a track can not truly be gleamed from that number.  Another consideration is the actual age demographic of MySpace and their access to financial services to pay for the music (i.e. Credit Cards and PayPal accounts).  If your fans can’t pay for the music online then they won’t buy it.

To make a long story short(er), there is a lot of misconceptions about how Internet buzz translates into sales.  It’s not as simple as building hype and then cashing in.  The first challenge is building the hype, but its even harder to turn that into something that will help you make money doing what you love.

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