Monday, October 10, 2005

There's No Us & Them, There's Only mARTketing

Hugh at GapingVoid talks about a blogger, Gia, who rants about the seemingly inane questions being posed to her by the "suits" who want in on blogging, but don't really get it. He editorializes:
But if you over-strategize, you soon stop treating your readers like human beings, and start treating them like "consumers", there to be manipulated like labratory animals.

I don't think Gia's paymasters are stupid or evil people. It's just that what works in Hollywood and Madison Avenue doesn't work in the blogosphere, and it's taking them a while to accept the fact.

One thing you notice when you start attending the blog conferences and hanging around the more well-known and respected bloggers on the planet: None of them seem to take it very seriously. They just get on with it. If what they do works for them, it's because it all comes naturally ...

Maybe Big Media is all about being fake and getting away with it.

Well maybe they are. And maybe they always have been. And maybe we should get over it.

Perhaps it's because I'm still a new-jack, but I don't think the "blogosphere" per se is rewriting the rules for how you market and go about the business of commodifying a product. I don't think Hugh is necessarily wrong. But I think the more correct sentiment is "what doesn't work in hollywood and madison ave. also doesn't work in the blogosphere." It's not blogs that have created new rules, it's everything. It's the digital media era - with file sharing, and blogs, and 800 channels, and the internet, and digi-cams, and everything else. Information overload has been the impetus for a different approach, and blogs are a byproduct of the information overload.

I'm sure suits were firing off tons of seemingly inane questions when they were first trying to get a handle on how to commodify television. It's the nature of the business. You ask every question in the book, even the stupid ones - what happens if someone leaves a bad comment?, what if you don't have trackbacks?, can a blog have children?, if you kill someone and repent on your blog are you no longer guilty of murder?

Some of these questions may be silly now, just suits trying to figure out how to make $, but if Harriet Miers is on the Supreme Court and blogging, who knows ... maybe you will be able to get away with murder (of a baby) if you write well enough .... or blogroll her.

And ultimately this Q&A is the same game that's played anywhere in capitalist america. People trying to tap into the "hip-hoposphere" do the same thing - What does the hip mean? what does the hop mean? When is the best time to get shot? etc. etc.

There's suits and artists. And like the actors, authors, and rock stars before them the nu-blartists want to make money, but also want to complain about how the money is made.

But this is what we do. And treating readers like humans or consumers is purely based on your ability to form many and varied personal relationships. The mob is the mob. Just because the mob comes to read a blog instead of sitting in front of a tv, doesn't make them any more human. If you get 150K hits a day, you're not going to be able to keep up. Some people will become *gasp* nameless faceless "readers" ... and they will *gasp* fit into certain demographics ... and if your goal is to maintain that traffic you will likely *sigh* tailor your content to the faceless consumer. Because that is what we do.

In general I just think we should be more comfortable with our roles.

Artists/bloggers/creatives shouldn't roll their eyes when suits come asking questions. they shouldn't sermonize about the big bad marketing meeting. And suits shouldn't roll their eyes when artists/bloggers/creatives start acting like self-righteous arrogant assholes who happened to stumble on a formula but are too blind and full of their own shit to really use it to empower themselves (and others).

there's no more art. there's no more marketing. they're becoming one and the same. mARTketing.

mARTketing is the new new ... and if you want to make some money, go ahead and ask any silly question you want.

thus spach TANathustra


  1. I just watched your video in the above post and I really enjoyed it... What if in 6 months, a year, two years of you writing, making videos, building an audience who likes what you do (as you surely will), someone comes along and says, 'Assimilated Negro, we like what you do, we love your voice, will you do what you do for us?' And you say, 'Show me the money.' And they do.

    And then they start to imply that what you do *isn't* right. And then they start asking all these questions about what you do: 'You know your name, Assimilated Negro, I think maybe that's got to change. Too controversial.' 'Your videos are too long/too short/too raw/too polished, can you do them differently?' 'Your sense of humour is a bit too.... subtle... make more jokes with big punchlines...' 'Maybe you need to widen the audience a bit... can you write less about the negro, as you say, experience, and more about everyone else?'


    And you, too, will 'rant' about the questions.

    Sure, they are trying to run a business, but as I said to them, I can't tell the producer how to produce a blockbuster film, I can't tell the writer how to write a best selling novel, I can't tell the marketing dept how to run a marketing campaign for a film... but I *know* blogs and how people read them and they really just need to let that happen... and they have...

    I do agree with you though - art and marketing are one. Making it is easy, selling it is where the creativity comes in. The key is to make something that a small number of people absolutely, passionately love rather than something that a huge number of people will kind of be mildly interested in. Insisting that a blog (or a song or a book or video) appeals to the lowest common denominator is no longer the 'right' way to market things... That's what I was 'ranting' about...

    :) Continue doing what you do, AS, and they will come. I *love* your blog.

  2. Anonymous10/11/2005

    The LCD is still where marketing aims in the real world. The big, although i won't judge on smart, money goes there. They go making block buster movies that nobody really likes but still rake in the crowds, they go on pre-packaged, pre-interpreted "pop" music. There are some signs things might be changing, it could just be the liberal american beatnik types have turned into bloggers, stopped going to the cinema as much, and turned to pirating music at the worst, and buying that of much less LCD appealing bands such as Death Cab for Cutie, The Shins etc etc.

    The rich liberals have turned to the long tail. Maybe the rest will follow. It's not like the LCD doesn't exist any more. And it's not like they don't still have a huge pile of money if you add it all up.

  3. Gia - thanks for stopping by. to be honest when I saw your post it didn't seem to have the same editorial slant that Hugh added. Which is really what I was commenting on. You layed out the questions they asked and kind of allowed us to draw our own conclusions.

    I think the end result for you, supports my point. They're not blockheads, they're just trying to get it. They have to "understand" some things, just like the artist/blogger does. The problem isn't the questions. It's what they do with the information and answers to the questions that's potentially a mistake. That's where teamwork is needed. And teamwork can't happen if we dont' have respect for the other position.

    But maybe they did need to be "told about themselves" if they were getting imposing ...

    anon - I think the LCD is getting increasingly lower. There's just too many options to bank on a blockbuster dominating the way it used to. Market correctiosn are happening across the board - music industry, concerts, film industry, television ... they're all losing upside. we'll se where it all ends up ....

  4. This whole marketing/advertising versus bloggers is dreary in the extreme. I agree with Hugh it's a threat to Big Media/Marketing. Unlike Hugh, I don't chose to dissect it in such apocolyptic or facetious terms. I don't think it's productive and a turn off to a professional audience - you know - the kind that signs big cheques. But it stirs opinion and that's what matters.

    Sadly - I have to say there are a lot of meatheads in the marketing/PR community. Control, control, control. They struggle to get past that. Denial is but one human response to a real threat. This is one such.


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