Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Countdown to Cradlesong

Due to how completely distracted I can be, I am not entirely sure how long iTunes, the media player of Apple, has marketed new releases with a countdown. I started noticing their marketing formula awhile back when Rascal Flatts released their album Unstoppable. The formula is basically this: Insert a great logo stating Countdown to (x); release 1 song per week for the 3 consecutive weeks prior to the release of (x). Get it?

The current marketing campaign is for the sophomore album of Rob Thomas. "Countdown to Cradlesong" has included the release of three singles--"Her Diamonds," "Give Me the Meltdown," "Someday," and today's release "Fire On the Mountain." All of this is taking place before iTunes or any other music outlet actually has the full album release. I am assuming that the artist comes to an agreement with iTunes on how they would like to market the album or, like they must with radio stations, the artist releases a few of the singles from the album prior to the actual release date. Keep reading for my perspective on whether this marketing plan works.

Rob Thomas has a voice I've always enjoyed and his lyrics are generally very powerful. His latest single, "Fire on the Mountain," seems rather fitting for the state of the world today. Here are the lyrics to today's release:
Fire on the mountain
Through the fields, save yourself
There's evil in the garden
You don't see it, I can tell

How do you sleep while the city's burning?
Where do you go when you can't go home?
How do you drink when there's blood in the water?
Where do you turn when the world moves on?
When the world moves on...

Fire on the mountain
You can feel it against your skin
You're standing by the river
Let the river take you in

How do you sleep while the city's burning?
Where do you go when you can't go home?
How do you drink when there's blood in the water?
Where do you turn when the world moves on?
When the world moves on
When the world moves on

I see smoke out on the horizon
Mama, get your baby, take her down to the water
I feel the wind like a promise broken
I see the future, but it's getting farther
I see smoke out on the horizon
Mama, get your baby, take her down to the water
I feel the wind like a promise broken
I see the future, but it's getting farther

How do you sleep while the city's burning?
Where do you go when you can't go home?
How do you drink when there's blood in the water?
Where do you turn when the world moves on?
I have really enjoyed the previous releases that will appear on Cradlesong, but I can't contain my annoyance with how this is happening. Four songs, possibly an entire third of the full album, released before the actual album release. What happened to the days of building up anticipation for months, even years (I'm thinking Chinese Democracy here) and then going out and buying the album, on cd, cassette or vinyl, the first day it's out?

Having gone to some stores at midnight (12:01 a.m., to be exact) to pick up new releases, I can't understand why other people aren't annoyed by this marketing ploy. Sure, you are getting a preview of what is to come and will know whether or not you like the album before buying it and being stuck with it, but in this day and age there are so many ways to sample music after they are released and before you buy them that really it doesn't make any sense. It seems to me that they are only building the anticipation of the consumers who would have purchased the album anyway, eventually.

Also, I can't help but wonder what it does to album sales when singles are released consecutively prior to the album being available. If we were to assume that the four songs from Cradlesong that have already been release will in fact be the four top singles from that album, don't most people only like three or four singles from a full length album anyway? With singles available from iTunes, Rhapsody, Amazon, and many other music outlets, it is getting very easy to just buy a couple of songs you like from a cd without ever owning the full cd. It can't be helping album sales, right? Then again there are plenty of people out there getting music they never paid for to begin with and that's really hurting the music industry.

All in all it must be better for the artist to sell four singles off an entire album, prior to the album releasing or not, than to not sell any at all or to have their music out there in the hands of listeners who ripped the album or got it via other nefarious ways. So, maybe the countdown formula is a well intended for all parties.

Yet, there's still the issue of spotlighting a big name band or artist for weeks prior to a release (read: Rob Thomas) and then letting other artists (read: Wilco, also releasing on 6/30 alongside Thomas), also deserving of your money and support, go by unnoticed.

1 comment:

darike88 said...

So, did you get Chinese Democracy, and did you like it?