Author Topic: Feeding and clothing the indie rockers  (Read 4043 times)

SPARX

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Feeding and clothing the indie rockers
« on: December 17, 2003, 02:39:00 pm »
Judging by the shiner around Mark Owen's eye and the splint on Derek Berk's
 pinky and index fingers as they stood on Orchard Street on Manhattan's Lower
 East Side, no one would have accused the musicians of losing the
 anti-Establishment ethos inherent in the indie-rock scene."Things got a little
 crazy in DC," Berk said.At first sight, their band The High Strung seemed aptly
 named, as they explained they got into a fist fight with each other a few nights
 prior. Now, the band members were calm and articulate and appeared to be best of
 friends, and excited to be part of the College Music Journal Festival that took
 place this year in New York.Every year the CMJ Network, best known for
 publishing a weekly music journal, rolls into Manhattan to host a four-day event
 showcasing nearly a thousand indie and underground bands and performers at
 virtually every rock venue in the city.This year, as part of a promotional
 event, the uberhip The Fader magazine teamed with Levi's, Urban Outfitters,
 and Converse to provide a home base for the bands in a rented storefront on
 Orchard Street. "The Den" was a place for the bands, many of whom were living
 out of their tour vans, to relax, drink complimentary Red Stripe, listen to DJs,
 eat free pizza, play Xbox, and best of all, get some free clothes provided by
 Levi's and Converse.For the members of The High Strung, having a lounge to visit
 to rest their tour-weary legs couldn't have been more ideal. Pointing to the
 quintessential band bus sitting in disrepair and badly in need of a paint job,
 Berk said, "We've been on the road for 22 months and currently have no
 residence."Despite their apparent state of depravity, the musicians were
 impeccably dressed in new designer jeans, coats, and sneakers provided by Levis
 and Converse as part of the companies' newly emerging "presence marketing"
 strategies. Moments before, the band had been fitted and photographed wearing
 the gear by company reps inside The Den.As stated by Marisa Brickman,
 who helped organize the event for The Fader's publisher, Cornerstone Promotion,
 as a "product seeding sweep:""These bands are poor, and we're like, we'll clothe
 you, we'll feed you, we'll give you beer, we'll take your picture. It makes them
 feel special that they got invited."Despite indie rock's iconic reputation for
 being distrustful of everything corporate, Ms. Brickman appears to be right.
 Nearly fifty bands handpicked by Cornerstone agreed to stop by The Den during
 this four-day event to be photographed and to take advantage of all the free
 stuff. Bands including Seattle's Pretty Girls Make Graves, and the New York
 bands Panthers and Enon all took part in the event.Given the reality of tough
 economic times and the high profile use of indie music in Gap, Apple, and
 Volkswagen commercials - not to mention the controversial use of a Shins song in
 a recent McDonald's advertisement - a majority of the bands voiced few if any
 concerns about taking the free clothing or being
 photographed by Levi's and Converse who pointedly try to attract musicians,
 artists, and trendsetters for branding. "The economy sucks, free clothes are
 free clothes. I don't think you can really use me to market a product," said
 Anton Newcombe of The Brian Jonestown Massacre moments after participating in
 the photo shoot:Au contraire, Sheri Timmons, the stylish Director of Presence
 Marketing for Levi's explained wearing an AC/DC belt and sporting a hip,
 downtown mullet. She said that as corporate America's marketing budgets begin to
 dwindle, companies are beginning to understand that increasing brand visibility
 can often be done more organically and cost effectively. "It's really about
 presence, not about paying money to sponsor something but about making sure that
 you have that presence to make sure your product is represented in the right
 way," Timmons said.Ms. Timmons job at Levi's helps secure this presence.
 Presence marketing, as she described it, compliments the strategies of
 a traditional marketing department by "sampling the product in a way so that
 the right people know about it and can spread the word on a grassroots
 level."The right people, when targeting the indie-loving hipsteratti, have never
 been celebrities or musicians who appear on MTV, but instead the lead singer of
 an obscure band, a local visual artist gaining recognition on the gallery scene,
 or, before electroclash lost its cool, a club promoter like Larry Tee. The bands
 that were photographed at The Den, Timmons said, give the company street
 credibility by appearing on stage in the clothing or by spreading the word about
 how cool Levi's is for providing them with free stuff.Additionally, the pictures
 taken at events such as The Den, are often used in magazines like The Fader,
 Interview, and Spin as press shots in their editorial sections. In the past,
 shots featuring indie favorites including The Boggs, Princess Superstar, and
 Phantom Planet wearing the brand have also been featured as
 multi-page "advertorials" in hip culture magazines like Paper.Most of the bands
 appreciate the opportunity to get involved, Timmons explained, since the
 advertorials - for which the artists are generally not paid - provide them with
 exposure. Other bands are simply glad to be given free press shots wearing
 clothing they'd probably buy anyway, provided they could afford it.Other
 promotions have involved setting up tents at music festivals where products are
 given freely to the bands. Levi's even rented a practice space during the South
 by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, sending reps over to hand out free gear
 to the bands.Branding aside, Timmons claimed that it's important for Levi's to
 give something back to the artists as the company's heritage is deeply rooted in
 music. "We were worn by The Clash, Elvis Presley, The Strokes and Britney
 Spears," said Timmons. If you look at the history, Levi's is joined at the hip
 with rock and roll."Not surprisingly, fashion companies such as
 Diesel and Converse also have presence marketing campaigns that target
 trendsetters and musicians to show their support of underground culture while
 securing cool branding for their products. As Kelly McCauley, a 25-year-old "pop
 culture fanatic" and Presence Marketing Director at Diesel explained, sometimes
 even people right off the street designated as having a hip, downtown aesthetic
 can be part of their marketing strategy. "If we meet someone at a show who may
 be appropriate to be getting products from us, we'll take them into the [Diesel]
 store," said McCauley.TV on the RadioBeyond the fashion world, brands such as
 Rheingold and Red Stripe have been paying more and more attention to their
 "indie demographic" with whom their brands are already popular. Cornerstone's
 Marisa Brickman, who is also a consultant for Rheingold, which she called a
 "dirty rock and roll beer" said that the company commonly sends free samples to
 indie clubs such as Knitting Factory to be distributed to
 the bands. The concept is simple; if the band you show up to see is drinking
 Rheingold, it must be cool.So how do marketing departments discern who is cool
 anyway? Many turn to Cornerstone Promotion, a marketing company that
 Co-President Jon Cohen described as a "music, film and brand marketing company
 deeply rooted in culture." Apparently their cultural roots run very deep; The
 Fader, a music magazine published by Cornerstone (Jon insists the magazine
 operates completely independent of the marketing company) was recently ranked
 the number one trendsetting media magazine by the L Style Report, a qualitative
 brand research company.In their seven years of operation, Cornerstone has
 functioned as the extended marketing arm for a diverse client roster, helping
 companies in part to determine which bands, artists, and events would best
 appeal to the hip, urban demographic coveted by marketers. Despite Cornerstone's
 reputation for being able to discern who and what is cool, the 35-year-old
 Cohen rolled his eyes at the suggestion he is a "cool hunter.""Anyone that's
 cool hunting isn't cool," said Cohen. "We don't need to hunt. We're already out
 there."Jon said Cornerstone's passion for music and culture inspires them to
 create tasteful and symbiotic partnerships with specific artists and brands. The
 Den is a prime example of how Cornerstone brings what he called "non-exploitive"
 branding to the world of indie music.Nevertheless, a few of the participating
 musicians at The Den did voice some reticence to having their bands involved
 with a corporate-sponsored marketing event. "I'm taking my clothes, I'm lighting
 a fire, and I'm leaving," joked Kyp Malone of Brooklyn's TV on the Radio.Moments
 later, while the band was being photographed in their newly-acquired gear, band
 members held up paper plates with ironic messages scribbled upon them,
 including:I'm hungry and I'm scared.While visiting New York for the CMJ
 festival, Sub Pop founder and President, Jonathan Poneman
 stated that he believes opinions about advertising have evolved since the
 Eighties and early Nineties. "I think bands today don't want to be associated
 with the Establishment either, but their protesting against the Establishment is
 done in much more meaningful ways than resisting marketing dollars," Poneman
 said.Mark Hosler of Negativland, a politically-charged independent band from the
 Eighties, claims that the notion of independent music has changed profoundly
 since its onset."If someone had told you 20 years ago that Vans would be
 sponsoring music events for skateboarder kids," he said, "no one would have
 believed it.""Advertising is everywhere," Mark continued, but attaching your
 band's name to a brand he believes "cheapens what you do as an artist."
 Admitting that the indie world's opinions about advertising have probably
 softened, he confessed that most bands today would probably consider his
 opinions to be "quaint."Granted, grabbing free clothing at a promotional event
 like
 The Den is widely different than selling your song to be used in a Volkswagen
 commercial. Nevertheless, most of the bands at The Den confessed they couldn't
 imagine most indie bands from the previous generation participating in a similar
 event.But as Dave Walsh from The Explosion said: "It's a matter of choosing your
 battles. I don't see the harm or the exploitation in an event like this. And who
 wouldn't want free jeans?"--Robert Lanham(just as a foot note:i don't drink
 beer,i drink vodka.i don't play x-box-mother-fucker.i wore my clarks!!!mother
 fuck the chuck taylor shit.i whipe my as with urban contemperary culture.i have
 always rocked the levis,same as my dad and grand dad.i just like the
 custom,low-rize-boot-cut-517's,and i'm not going to pay one $175 for that
 stuff.never!!!RUN THAT SHIT!!!they should give me more shit.they're kind of
 cheap.oh well,this biz sucks!nothing new to trash like
 you!)http://www.freewilliamsburg.com/december_2003/indie-presence.html
 
 For more information about the Brian Jonestown Massacre or the Committee to Keep
 Music Evil please feel free to visit : http://www.brianjonestownmassacre.com -
 http://www.bomp.com . or to sample our music (free mp3's stupid):
 http://www.brianjonestownmassacre.com/mp3.php

Re: Feeding and clothing the indie rockers
« Reply #1 on: December 17, 2003, 02:45:00 pm »
Warning to anybody else who tries to read this: This is one dull, boring, useless article.

SPARX

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Re: Feeding and clothing the indie rockers
« Reply #2 on: December 17, 2003, 02:48:00 pm »
Quote
Originally posted by Rhett Miller:
  Warning to anybody else who tries to read this: This is one dull, boring, useless article.
Sorry Rhett,I'll try to do better  :roll:  
 p.s.High Strung content above!

Celeste

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Re: Feeding and clothing the indie rockers
« Reply #3 on: December 17, 2003, 02:54:00 pm »
I disagree, Rhett.
 
 I found it interesting, having read No Logo, which included chapters on the many ways corporations sneak their way into every aspect of our lives---like the supposed "indie" culture.
 
 I can't even say whether I think it's good or bad that this happens. For me, it would matter whether the company colored the "art", or censored it or something and whether their products were made under oppressive or abusive conditions...though I can't throw any stones since I probably have some of the sweat-shop produced clothes, myself.
 
 I don't agree with the implication that marketing clothes is somehow less of a sell-out than letting Volkswagon use a song, either...

Re: Feeding and clothing the indie rockers
« Reply #4 on: December 17, 2003, 02:55:00 pm »
No problem. Sorry, it's just one of those sarcasm days. Forgive me. I guess if I posted a long report that mentioned the Old 97's, most people would think it incredibly boring. Guess we all have different tastes in reading material.
 
 
Quote
Originally posted by SPARX:
   
Quote
Originally posted by Rhett Miller:
  Warning to anybody else who tries to read this: This is one dull, boring, useless article.
Sorry Rhett,I'll try to do better   :roll:  
 p.s.High Strung content above! [/b]

SPARX

  • Member
  • Posts: 2070
Re: Feeding and clothing the indie rockers
« Reply #5 on: December 17, 2003, 03:08:00 pm »
Quote
Originally posted by Rhett Miller:
 [QB]   Guess we all have different tastes in reading material.
 
 
Quote
                                                                                             What an epiphany!!You do know you don't HAVE to read  articles that don't interest you,right?

Re: Feeding and clothing the indie rockers
« Reply #6 on: December 17, 2003, 03:17:00 pm »
Well given that it is one long strung together paragraph, I found it hard to follow.
 
 
Quote
Originally posted by Celeste:
  I disagree, Rhett.
 
 I found it interesting, having read No Logo, which included chapters on the many ways corporations sneak their way into every aspect of our lives---like the supposed "indie" culture.
 
 I can't even say whether I think it's good or bad that this happens. For me, it would matter whether the company colored the "art", or censored it or something and whether their products were made under oppressive or abusive conditions...though I can't throw any stones since I probably have some of the sweat-shop produced clothes, myself.
 
 I don't agree with the implication that marketing clothes is somehow less of a sell-out than letting Volkswagon use a song, either...

Celeste

  • Guest
Re: Feeding and clothing the indie rockers
« Reply #7 on: December 17, 2003, 03:22:00 pm »
Quote
Originally posted by Rhett Miller:
  Well given that it is one long strung together paragraph, I found it hard to follow.
That's very true, I guess I prefer when people use links...anyway...I couldn't care less about the crappy bands the article mentions, I just like reading about marketing...so I think I'm the freak here.

Justin Tonation

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  • Did you ever wonder?
Re: Feeding and clothing the indie rockers
« Reply #8 on: December 17, 2003, 04:31:00 pm »
There are two kinds of people I don't trust: those who use "charity" and "profit" in the same sentence and those who use "hip" and "brand" in the same sentence.
 
 I know, I used those words in a sentence, how fucking ironic, blah blah....
😐 🎶

poorlulu

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Re: Feeding and clothing the indie rockers
« Reply #9 on: December 17, 2003, 08:10:00 pm »
how can any article featuring the high strung be boring.........sigh
 
 oh and incidently that's not what they told me happened..............

Jaguär

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Re: Feeding and clothing the indie rockers
« Reply #10 on: December 18, 2003, 09:31:00 pm »
Quote
Originally posted by poorlulu:
 oh and incidently that's not what they told me happened..............
Then fill us in.