hip hop music

August 17, 2004

Robin Bechtel, Who Are You Kidding?

I admire your commitment to being a loyal corporate flack, every posse needs an Ari Fleischer. But there comes a point when you need to cut your losses and just admit that you're busted.

Warner's Tryst With Bloggers Hits Sour Note

...Two weeks ago, at least eight MP3 bloggers received an e-mail message from Ian Cripps, a Warner employee. In the messages, which were identical and came with an MP3 file attached, Mr. Cripps told the bloggers that he loved their sites.

"We are very interested in blogs and I was wondering if you could post this mp3," he wrote. "It's by one of our new bands - The Secret Machines. They are an indie rock band and we would love for people to hear the band's music from your site. Here it is, listen to it and let me know if you will post it. Thanks!!"

The pitch to MP3 blogs was part of an ambitious online campaign that was the work of Robin Bechtel, vice president for new media at Warner Brothers and Reprise Records. The campaign's first unusual component was a decision to start selling the Secret Machines album through Apple's iTunes store and other online outlets last February, nearly four months before it was available on CD. The move drew attention to the album, which received strong reviews.

Ms. Bechtel said that the company had contacted many sites for the Web part of the publicity effort, and that the messages to MP3 blogs were an experiment. "We're really progressive in trying things," she said...

...In the week after the song was posted on Music for Robots, a message board on the site attracted some thoughtful commentary on Warner's move. But a few comments, posted under several different names, stood out because they looked like something one might read on a teen-pop fan site.

"I never heard these guys before, but theyre awesome," read a posting last Thursday under the name Ron. "I went to their website and you can listen to a lot of ther other stuff, very cool and very good!" Another post, sprinkled with casual profanity, asserted that big corporations could still release good music, and cited the Beatles as an example.

A check of site records by Mr. Willett revealed that all four of the suspect comments had been posted from the same Internet Protocol address, indicating that they came from the same computer or from a computer within the same company. That address was also the source of two e-mail messages that Ms. Bechtel sent to a reporter, as well as the original messages sent to the bloggers.

The entertainment industry has for some years been going into chat rooms and message boards to promote its products. But Ms. Bechtel said this kind of activity was not part of the Secret Machines campaign. She said the comments could have been posted independently by fans of the band who worked at the company.

"We're not sitting here typing in message boards that the band is great," she said. "But if somebody in the building loves the band, I can see them doing it. People at record companies are also huge fans..."

Robin, please.
Just stop.

Blame it on some junior employees who were acting without your approval or something. Anything but this. I can't bear to watch.

Seriously, from what I've read Robin Bechtel deserves a lot of props as a pioneer in pushing the industry to seek a healthy relationship with the online world. And even this seems like a good idea that had just wasn't very well executed. But she does herself a disservice with this line of defense.

(via anil and the ab. props to cocaine blunts for the soundbyte.)

Posted by jsmooth995 at August 17, 2004 7:02 PM

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