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White Stripes capture their Elephant?
February 8, 2003 8:33 AM   Subscribe

White Stripes capture their 'Elephant'? World famous radio DJ John Peel has been told to stop playing songs from the new White Stripes album, 'Elephant'. Apparently, he was 'interfering with the global marketing strategy by continuing to play the record'. A scheme which involves giving people who aren't fans of the band copies of the album five months before it comes out. The result? It's on Kazaa already, and DJs who love the band can't play the record. There's also some mp3s ( <- note that a link to one there) of Peel talking about the ban.
posted by tapeguy (23 comments total)

 
Why don’t record companies realise that they are providing a service to the fans who make the companies their money? Why is it more important to give out free copies of records to journalists (who may not be fans of the act) five months before the release date, whilst forcing said fans to wait for up to a year or more after the damn thing was completed in the studio?

Do the big five (or four, or three, or whatever?) have rules about this type of thing? It seems pretty standard practise at the majors. Has there been a recent release by a major record label that hasn’t conformed to this stupid ethic of ‘fuck the fans, let’s hold out for critical mass and REAL cash’?
posted by tapeguy at 8:34 AM on February 8, 2003


<soapbox>
Ultimatly, though, they still feel like they've got the fans by the balls. I mean, these people treat fans of their band's records like crap--and it still sells. So they have NO reason to stop. What they may or may not realize is that they are turning an entire generation or two away from buying records from label-based bands. There will ALWAYS be people that do this (probably a majority, but not a massive majority, in the future), but more and more people are learning that there is good music available out there without the cloud behind it. It's not about indie cred, it's about music and what it was supposed to be about--fun, and art, not millions and record sales. Hrm.
</soapbox>
posted by psychotic_venom at 9:05 AM on February 8, 2003


Judging that these bands only get signed to major record companies because said companies know that these bands will make them money, surely this practise can’t involve money? Maybe it’s some kind of ‘step mother complex’, where they’re just acting out to become a hated figure?
posted by tapeguy at 9:06 AM on February 8, 2003


I've got a copy as well. it's ok, I guess!
posted by mcsweetie at 10:01 AM on February 8, 2003


im big fan of the white stripes and moreso of john peel,
quite frankly the white stripes would be nothing in the uk
if peel hadnt played their records.
If the band members themselves dont sort this out you can guarantee the backlash will be gi-normous, peel is the indie gods representative on earth.
Nobody messes with peel !
I see the hand of some idiotic marketing person here..
by the way i got the kazza files and they consist of 15 second clips of each song looped into the songs proper length so you're hearing the start of 'girl,you have no faith in medicine' (admittedly wonderful)
over and over again ..i mailed the guy who had the files and i told him i hope his dealer sells him oregano.
Im paying to see them in glasgow and ill buy the album anyway so whats the problem?
posted by sgt.serenity at 10:42 AM on February 8, 2003


tapeguy, i was gonna give you a reasoned answer on why the record companies schedule as they do but then i realized that it wouldn't matter in the least to a dedicated fan. i felt the same way when the rising was in the can and ready to go months before it came out the end of july.
posted by billsaysthis at 11:36 AM on February 8, 2003


So, Jack (by way of Mr. Gershon) says the music's really meant to be heard on vinyl? Well, I guess if I pick up a record, that pretty much precludes me from buying any tickets to their live shows, doesn't it? I mean, it can't get much better than than the record, can it? I'm a big fan of the Stripes, but I wouldn't want to sully my listening experience or anything.
posted by phong3d at 12:03 PM on February 8, 2003


According to the VH1 link, the record is out on April 15th. The White Stripes' publicist in the US had vinyl copies in their office only in the past week or so.

That means that journalists are getting their copies two months before the release date.

Considering that even *weekly* music columns (in, say, the Village Voice or Time Out) have around a three-week lead time, is it really *SO SCANDALOUS* for promos to go out two months before the release?

And John Peel (who is a fantastic DJ and has every right to question the fucked up music business) played *six tracks* from the album in *one show*.

Is it so insane that the record company asked him to maybe not completely over-expose the thing? Hell, we don't even know how they asked him or what they said.

I don't really get this thread, I guess. Surely there are better targets to pick on?
posted by bcwinters at 12:58 PM on February 8, 2003


In similar misguided artist news, someone so famous she has one single listed on Amazon single-handedly brough down SoulSeek, one place she was apparently getting exposure. Where is someone to explain to artists that there might be an alternative to record companies?

For the record, I always though the name of the White Stripes' label was supposed to be ironic.
posted by yerfatma at 1:34 PM on February 8, 2003


quite frankly the white stripes would be nothing in the uk if peel hadnt played their records.

give me a break. the guy's a fucking dj. yeah, he's a damn good one, but if he doesn't see how playing a half dozen songs from a yet-unreleased record would bother a band or a label then he's got his head up his ass. and, oh, quite frankly, peel would be nothing without bands like the stripes, now would he?

the reason critics get records in advance is because they need time to properly evaluate the record and write a review. if they got the record the week before, their reviews would not be as informed. in addition, they get so many damn records, if they only got records the week before than they would only review records that they thought (without listening) would be worth their salt and "less important" bands would never get written about as there wouldn't be time to listen to them. it's really not the complicated.

Well, I guess if I pick up a record, that pretty much precludes me from buying any tickets to their live shows, doesn't it? I mean, it can't get much better than than the record, can it? I'm a big fan of the Stripes, but I wouldn't want to sully my listening experience or anything.

by all means, please don't buy a ticket. there'll be more room for people who want to view their fantastic live show if the people looking for live replicas of the record stay home. thanks in advance!

and yerfatma, the record label in question is V2 not SFTRI.
posted by dobbs at 2:15 PM on February 8, 2003


All this and the record companies wonder why their sales are off?
posted by caddis at 2:48 PM on February 8, 2003


yerfatma: Did you read the "customer reviews" for that Sapphirecut single on Amazon? Talk about blatant.
posted by macrone at 4:26 PM on February 8, 2003


give me a break. the guy's a fucking dj. yeah, he's a damn good one, but if he doesn't see how playing a half dozen songs from a yet-unreleased record would bother a band or a label then he's got his head up his ass.

Likewise, if the record label didn't see the problem with sending a radio DJ an advance promotional copy of an album that they didn't want him to play, then they've got their collective head up their collective ass.

and, oh, quite frankly, peel would be nothing without bands like the stripes, now would he?

Sorry, your snark is getting in the way of your point. Obviously, if great, relatively unknown bands that deserve more exposure didn't exist, or if they did exist and Peel were not adept at searching them out, then he wouldn't be much of a DJ. But the fact is, he's a "damn good" DJ, just as you said. He plays good music on his show and as a result a lot of people listen to him and respect his opinions.
posted by monosyllabic at 4:40 PM on February 8, 2003


I think you're being really unfair with this post. First of all, anyone who thinks this is strictly a practice of the majors is wrong. Indies will hold off releasing a finished record for four months at a time almost as a matter of habit, and they'll certainly go longer. Hell, Jack White's got a band on his label (Third Man) that have a record done that he's sitting on right now(Greenhorns?).

No matter how many evils the labels are source of, there is still a whole boatload of music that comes out every month. Most of it is crap (Sturgeon's Law) and further, doesn't recover the money it took to produce it. Labels, even cool cuddly warm indie labels, rely on some degree of hype, publicity, etc. to sell records. To those who insist that 'the good music just shines through on it's own intrinsic goodness' I say look back at artists like Nick Drake, or the Soft Boys, or any of a host of others now-very popular bands that sold almost no records during their existence (or lives, in some cases) and see how long it took the public to come around. Think of how many more there must be.

For any of these records to have a chance, the labels, even the internet-music-biz-pundit-approved pinko labels, have to rely on a coordinated buzzstream to get the record moving. If they don't get it going in the first few weeks, retail gives it worse support or returns it to it's distro, then people can't get it, there's no buzz, etc. Those first few weeks' scans are critical for the record to have a chance. Sometimes, when too many retailers or DJs break street on a record, the labels change their mind and release early (the last Eminem, the new 50 cent), and in those cases, it doesn't usually hurt them because that only happens when there's a lot of buzz, but producing a record and working promo and publicity for a few months before release is pretty much a necessary evil of selling music at any level, if you think working to generate press for a record you like qualifies as evil.

So these 'idiotic marketing people', to use sgt.serenity's words, are oftentimes the same people that take real risks and work very hard for little or no financial compensation to put out all those indie records we mefiers get such a kick out of namedropping in the inevitable competitive music threads.
posted by jeb at 5:22 PM on February 8, 2003


For the record, I always though the name of the White Stripes' label was supposed to be ironic.

Actually, they're on V2 records, now.

Elephant is out there already.
Got 9 tracks already . . .
posted by cinderful at 7:10 PM on February 8, 2003


"now this is what we doctors call bollocks..."

the number of bands and acts i only know about because i heard them on john peel... eeesh. crizey tork.
posted by nthdegx at 3:28 AM on February 9, 2003


dobbs - 'if he doesn't see how playing a half dozen songs from a yet-unreleased record would bother a band or a label then he's got his head up his ass'

peel often plays an entire album on his show, if he really likes it. it is a one-off compliment, and will not be repeated on later shows. if i know that, then the stripes publicist should.
posted by asok at 4:31 AM on February 9, 2003


...coordinated buzzstream...
...first few weeks' scans...
...break street on a record...
...generate press...

My head is spinning.

And "pinko"?
posted by pitchblende at 10:06 AM on February 9, 2003


peel often plays an entire album on his show, if he really likes it. it is a one-off compliment, and will not be repeated on later shows. if i know that, then the stripes publicist should.

i wasn't trying to suggest he shouldn't do this. i don't have a problem with him doing it. what i have a problem with is his reaction to them asking for him not to do it again. i fail to see how he cannot see how it's a reasonable request--or, even if he doesn't think it's reasonable, that he would be professional enough to respect their wishes nonetheless.

Sorry, your snark is getting in the way of your point.

i was trying to imply that the relationship is not one sided (which i thought was sgt's point), but symbiotic. i thought that was pretty clear from what i wrote, regardless of my snark.

the thing that bothers me consistently about the music posts on mefi are the constant proclamations that the FANS know what's best in all situations and that the bands and labels are a bunch of idiots who fail to recognize this. "they should just shut up and make music--that's what they're good at." that sort of thing.

it's really fucking tired.
posted by dobbs at 1:34 PM on February 9, 2003


I don't even think the request that he stops playing the new record has anything to do with people creating mp3s or bootlegging it. The album's already on kazaa, after all. It was just the 'this doesn't fit in with our Global Marketing Strategy' comment that narked me.

The record company gave him the CD - what's the point in spending money sending out a record to a DJ, only to tell him not to play it after he's spun it a few times. If we did things like that at my company, we'd be sacked for wasting funds.
posted by tapeguy at 4:53 PM on February 9, 2003


Welcome to viral marketing in 2003. I find it hard to believe that V2 records and those responsible for marketing this record would release it so far before its street date in such a limited fashion without knowing what would happen.

1) Buzz. DJ John Peel is important and he's important to the White Stripes. As sgt.serenity points out, he was essential to their penetration into the UK scene, and the White Stripes peel sessions is a much revered bootleg of the band's live performance skills. If the limited release of the album didn't make enough press, the request for Peel to stop playing it did the job. You're reading the evidence right here.

2) Demand. Only 500 copies? Only on vinyl? But it made its way right onto P2P and Usenet. Those who have all the tracks will surely burn copies for their friends, as this is an anticipated album and they appeal to the same tech-savvy and hip-point-earning audiences through which such a pre-release would spread like wildfire.

The result? Every fan gets at least part, if not all of the album by the end of February. Everyon'e talking about it, because it's cool to have the bootleg, and because the album (presumably) is pretty damn good.

April comes around, and all the kids that didn't get the bootleg snatch up the album to catch up. The kids who had the MP3s snatch up the album because they're new/old/converted fans. The kids who wanted a higher quality CD copy rather than the vinyl MP3s snatch up the album. The kids who collect CDs snatch up the album.

Everyone lines up for a band who is selling another album to a music scene that often eats bands up after a few releases before switching to the next big thing. (Hello Make Up?)

How many among us fired up Kazaa as soon as they saw it in the text of the original post? I predict that none of this will hurt the album sales... In fact, it will probably help immensely.
posted by VulcanMike at 6:24 PM on February 9, 2003


This is a pretty good marketing scam to get some tongues wagging and generate free publicity innit?
posted by boneybaloney at 11:26 PM on February 9, 2003


So these 'idiotic marketing people', to use sgt.serenity's words
yep, messing with john peel is an instant way to lose credibility over here.
I dont think either of you understand how well respected john peel is in the uk.
most likely there will be an apology from the stripes to peel himself.
peel is no ordinary dj..goes into long list of bands that were not being played on the radio here in the uk because all the other dj's were celebrity seeking non-entities..
it goes from bowie to rod stewart to black sabbath to the sex pistols to joy division to rem to the smiths to sonic youth to the fall to u2 to the pixies to oasis to blur to the white stripes to name but a few.
all of these people owe john peel at least a small part of their careers.
please bear in mind a lot of these bands had to find success and support in the uk before going anywhere else.
posted by sgt.serenity at 6:08 PM on February 11, 2003


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