Monday, January 16, 2006

"The Smash That Wasn't"

On the right side of PFM's main page you will see and interview with J from Cloud Room and FYI this is not J from Jawbox. Last I heard J(awbox) was in a band with his wife called Channels.

It’s difficult to say what the point of this interview with J actually is. A very public label bashing? A do's and don'ts list for new bands? Outing some of the evils of radio which isn't exactly news? The trials and tribulations of being in an indie band? A piece of irony considering this article / interview talks about the band missing fame when Pitchfork played a roll in melting their hype snowball?

Airing out dirty laundry in the press is dangerous business. It makes for an illuminating read as an outsider but as an artist and an industry person I would say this would make it on my number 1 thing you should NEVER discuss publicly unless your band has cleared all relations and ties with a label. Bands being frustrated with their label is VERY common... like 6 out of every 10 bands but most artists choose to focus on their art with the press not their behind the scenes personal business.

Indie radio promotions could be a full feature story in itself but the side presented in this PFM story is one sided. Many labels can't afford to hire full time employees to work their records to retail, press, and radio so they HAVE to hire an outside company to help them break a record. A good label with a limited staff who believes in a record's hit potential takes these very basic steps to try and actually make it happen. The politics behind these hired indie radio promoters is complex but not all that different from press and retail marketing companies.

Writers and record store employees are also given little perks like guest list action, new releases from a label before others might receive them, free drinks at a show, band swank like shirts, meet and greets with the band; this is all just part of the promotions business.

Part two to this murky subject is the advertisement found on music publications websites and in print. In theory if a record label runs an ad with a publication they stand a better chance to get their records reviewed, their artists interviewed, and have general news posted about their roster by this publication. The more money a label spends with a publication the more they are likely to stand in good favor with them. This isn't always the case, banner ads and full page advertisements don't make a band a hit but this is all part of the game labels have to play.

PFM says " Most of the album's press reflected that strange imbalance. Pitchfork Media's review spent roughly 230 of its 350 words on the single. "

To be more specific Pitchfork gave Cloud Room's S/T release a 6.6 rating and had these final thoughts on the record: "Their naivete is endearing, but it's difficult to shake the feeling that you've not only heard these songs before, they were played more passionately. If only they were just a little more ambitious and written something quite as good as the opening track. "

While this new PFM article offers a glimpse into the lesser known side of the music industry and one bands struggle to swim not sink, I wish there had been a brighter side to the story, a more serious look at the music they make, or even a tie to where the band stands now in present tense.

I don’t believe PFM mentions this but I do know Cloud Room has finished working on recording a new set of demos AKA new material.

The more I think about this interview the more I wonder if this is an infomercial of sorts. Remember that band Cloud Room, the little band that should of? Well they are still chugging along but looking for a new label. Hint hint.

This article is a perfect example of a marketing tool in disguise. It fills a portion of PFM’s main page, offers their readers a look into Cloud Room’s less than perfect path to almost fame but the reader also might check out their cd if they aren’t already familiar with the band or at the very least download their single which won’t die.

Oh…. and if you are of the A & R persuasion have we got a band for you.

UPDATE : Cloud Room has posted a little blurb about this article on their site.