Friday, January 05, 2007

Street Teams are made of this....

For those of you unfamiliar with the concept of the ‘Street Team’, it’s a promotional tool. Record companies realized some time ago that employing guys in satin tour bomber jackets (cf. Smashie and Nicey) to go around and give free singles to record shops and free drugs to Radio DJ’s wasn’t a really cost-effective way of bumping their records into the charts and, what with that interweb thingie taking over, could frankly be seen as a downright waste of money. A bit of a shame that, as when I worked in record shops I managed to snaffle a good few freebies, including being able to see Richard Thompson and Crowded House play live at The Borderline while I took advantage of the free bar, and also getting to see del Amitri on the second date of their tour to promote ‘Waking Hours’, which is one of my favourite albums ever. Anyhoo, the wheels came off the gravy train around the time that someone up in the eyries of the music biz (probably Simon Cowell or Louis Walsh) realized that it was going to be a lot cheaper and more effective to plant a few sleepers in amongst ver kids and let them get on with it themselves than to keep signing all those reps’ expense accounts. Hence a few net-savvy children got hauled aboard the promo express with the promise of exclusive access to the band, special signed posters, badges and a card on their birthday as long as they kept pimping the merch to their friends and peers on behalf of the industry. Not bad, eh, and let’s face it, who doesn’t like to be first on their block with the skinny? Some folk to this day are such unofficial founts of knowledge that their mates in bands know they don’t have to update their website as with a word to the wise their latest news’ll get round anyway – it’s the equivalent of that bit in Crocodile Dundee where they explain that if anyone’s got a problem they simply tell Wally and before too long everybody knows, hence it’s no longer a problem. It’s a win-win all round, ain’t it? Certainly back in the old days I had to send off a postal order and wait six weeks before the Status Quo Fan Club sent me anything like a badge, and then most of the time after that they just used to write to me and nag me to buy stuff anyway, so clearly this was a step forward for everyone. These days everyone’s got a Street Team. You know that nice Seth Lakeman - you’ve probably heard him on radio two or in the background on a trailer for something on the BBC – well he’s got a bunch of people casually dropping his name into conversations and (ahem) casually bigging him up on internet forums, and good luck to ‘im. I don’t generally really agree with this sort of malarkey – I’d prefer my recommendations to come from people who are genuinely interested in music of all forms and are delighted to highlight a gem they’ve found (that’s why we have critics) rather than someone pursuing their calling with almost religious zeal, shoehorning their subject in at every opportunity and wherever (in)appropriate (imagine the web forum equivalent of Jehovah’s Witnesses at your door or, as we refer to them, Marillion fans). But there we go – it's win/win, like I said earlier. One should be subtle though - no-one should suspect the neuro-linguistic programming what’s going on in their heads, and BUY THE SONGS FROM THE BLUE HOUSE CD ‘TOO’ ONLINE FROM OUR WEBSITE AT WWW.SONGSFROMTHEBLUEHOUSE.COM. Remember now, when it comes to Street Teams – easy does it…..

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