Friday, October 28, 2005

Media Pummels Auckland Teens
Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday night, the big lead story on TV One News was all about the teen street gangs causing chaos on the streets of Auckland. Last night the lead story was about killer compost. The teen gangs are reported by Police as numbering 1000. In a city of 1 and a half million people, that is minor. It's a community problem; let the community deal with it. Don't turn it into some media beatup on teens. It's South Auckland, not South Central. Tabloid journailsm strikes again.

AUDIO: Rosa Parks Memorial Mashup, from Jay Smooth...
Sly's "Thank You..." mixed with Outkast's "Rosa Parks" mixed with The Neville Brothers "Sister Rosa" mixed with 1956 Rosa Parks interview from the Pacifica Radio Archives. Grab it over here.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Someone writes a business story on the success of Fat Freddy's Drop. Thank you Liam Dunn. This is easily the biggest NZ album of the year (forget Bic Runga). Interesting read. What took you so long?

Fat Freddy's Drop let music walk the talk
27.10.05, By Liam Dann
When Peter Baker, general manager of record distribution company Rhythmethod, sat down to talk to his new clients, Fat Freddy's Drop, about marketing plans he was a little taken aback.

The band and manager Nicole Duckworth had a clear vision - no marketing.

"It's not that I wanted to do a big marketing campaign, but there are things that you traditionally do with any new release," Baker said.

The band wanted none of them.

When Fat Freddy's released its debut studio album in May there were no street posters, print ads, music video or single. And, Baker recalls, there wasn't even a definite release date to promote.

But the plan worked - big time.

The album's commercial success is unprecedented. It was the first independently distributed album to go straight to number one in the New Zealand charts. It was a gold record by the end of its first day (10,000 sales) and has since gone double platinum.

This week, Baker is doing the paperwork on an order that will see it top sales of 40,000.

Big mainstream retailers like The Warehouse are among the album's biggest buyers, something that was unimaginable in the band's early days as part of Wellington's underground dance music scene. [NB- The Warehouse account for over 60% of all CD sales]

But the "anti-marketing" philosophy is not about nihilistic rock'n' roll posturing.

Duckworth, who knows plenty about marketing, says it's part of a clearly defined strategy.

"We've always been pro-active about establishing a marketing plan," she said. "That plan was based on a couple of philosophies."

The first was to let the music do the talking, not the advertising.

"We'd come across - and been impressed by - marketing theories like the whole 'word-of-mouth thing'," she said.

"The loyalty that a word-of-mouth recommendation creates from a fan is much more powerful than someone discovering the music or the brand through a print ad."

The idea was to encourage a sense of ownership in fans.

"Then the audience is actually out there working for Freddy's."

That audience - which grew from years on the live circuit - created a huge advance demand for the album.

"With a creative business, you must let things happen organically," Duckworth said.

The loyalty, which saw the core fan base buy the album so quickly, has in turn created an industry buzz making Fat Freddy's one of the hottest acts in the country.

It's ironic given that the original plan was to ignore New Zealand and concentrate on foreign markets.

"The whole New Zealand thing surprised us," Duckworth said. "Seven years ago, we decided to focus on the international underground dance music scene because we didn't want to have to move into commercial music to be successful in New Zealand."

The band felt it was better to carve out a niche and sell themselves in places such as Germany, where that niche was big enough to be commercially viable.

That focus has meant that until this year most of Fat Freddy's work was only available on vinyl - something that only heightened demand for the album.

Duckworth said the vinyl release strategy was deliberate.

"You promote music through the DJs. When someone buys a CD, they'll play it in the car or at home and a close network of people will discover that music. But if you put it on a piece of vinyl and a DJ plays it over the weekend, then thousands of people start hearing it."

The Fat Freddy's sound - soulful lyrics layered over a slick brass section and heavy reggae beats - is part of a local movement dubbed Aotearoa Roots.

But, unlike so many Kiwi exporters, New Zealandness is not something the band has pushed.

"We've been careful not to market or brand the band as New Zealand," Duckworth said. "There is little interest, in the European market particularly, in music being from a specific country.

"There is a lot of pride here in New Zealand that the music is home grown but, overseas, you really have to put music out there first."

Fat Freddy Facts:

* Release music through their own label - The Drop.
* Debut studio album has sold nearly 40,000 copies.
* Picked up four New Zealand music awards this month - including best album and best band.

This week's album charts have FFD at #4, no change from last week.

How freaking awesome are Iggy and the Stooges?
That's a rhetorical question, so don't be a smartarse and answer it. Got my hands on the newly reissued/remastered Stooges albums (The Stooges; Funhouse) yesterday, and man, they rock. From the liner notes for Funhouse... The record's passion, attitude, power, emotion and destruction are incalculable. A milestone so overlooked it's despicable. We live in an age where people like James Taylor are inducted into the Rock'N'Roll Hall of Fame before the Stooges." Jack White, the White Stripes.

FMR plugs into the matrix
from the official press release from Warners on their acquisition of FMR....
"In hiring Michael Parisi and acquiring FMR, Warner Music Australasia plugs into a global A&R matrix that is committed to developing global careers," says Paul-Rene Albertini, Chairman and CEO, Warner Music International.
(tip of the hat to Richard B for this)

Just got the latest email from ESL, Thievery Corporation's label, and noticed this...
"You can also see the video for The Time We Lost Our Way directed by our favorite Kiwi Jolyon Hoff on, and on iTunes."

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Itunes is here... almost
Itunes launched in Oz on Tuesday morning, but if you type in your address as Auckland NZ Tasmania or something, you can buy tunes off the site (have heard this from a few journo mates who are doing just that). Lists over a million songs, but Sony BMG haven't signed up to it yet. Word is a deal with them is imminent.

"Tunes can be downloaded at a cost of $1.69 (Aus) per song and $3.39 (Aus) per music video. A whole album can be purchased for $16.99. That compares to US prices of $US0.99 ($1.30 Aus) for a song and $US9.99 ($13.10Aus) for an album." More news here.

Oh, and all the press releases/news reportage mentions the exciting range of current Australian bands on the site, like Evermore. Looks like we lost another one...

ADDED New Nokia 8800 cellphone with sounds/ringtones by Ryuichi Sakamoto... me want...

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

It's a conspiracy...
Salmonella Dub's Andrew Penman, from the Sunday Star Times... they're off on a national tour soon...

"We're touring with several other bands under the Dub Conspiracy banner," says Penman. "Basically Dub Conspiracy is an attempt to bypass idiots like the New Zealand Music Industry Commission or New Zealand on Air. I sound like a hypocrite, 'cause Salmonella has taken a few NZ On Air video grants, but really, I think these organisations and most major record labels encourage dependence and stop bands from devising alternative ways of working independently."

Penman believes bands end up competing against each other for audiences, media space, record contracts and funding, instead of building "a community where bands get together to tour, to appear on each other's albums and to share knowledge and resources."

And did you hear that FMR have been sold off to Warner Music Australiasia? More here - check the fantastic spelling errors... someone forgot to spellcheck the press release...

more later.