by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com
During this rather off week for music news, here are some loose thoughts after the recent fake-death publicity stunt pulled by Omaha hip-hop artist Breathless. You can read all about it in Jose Loza’s coverage in the Omaha World-Herald (here).
But before we get to that, over the weekend a local musician walked up to me at a show and said he could provide a ton of music news for Lazy-i if I promised not to use his name on the blog. I told him that people have sent me information under similar conditions in the past, information that turned out to be utter bullshit (and that I never published). He told me that wouldn’t happen, and I told him I’d keep his name off the website, but that I was still going to verify that his info was legit before I ran it.
Anyway, my point is that the Breathless stunt wouldn’t have gone anywhere if people first verified reports of her death. Instead, it was being repeated over and over on Facebook, Twitter and websites without anyone bothering to find out from someone like, oh I don’t know, her parents, whether she was dead or alive.
So I guess, score one for Breathless, right? So what if she pissed off close friends and fans who weren’t in on the joke. They’d get over it while the rest of the world buzzed…
The problem, of course, is that while people were talking about Breathless the last couple days, no one was talking about her music. Other than the fact that she’s a hip-hop artist and that this was a stunt in support of a new CD, you wouldn’t even know this story was music-related. Which makes it an EPIC FAIL.
Look, desperate times in the music industry call for desperate measures, and I like stunts as much as the next guy, but if you’re going to risk pissing off all your fans, friends and family, the least you can do is pull a stunt that will force people to listen to your music. I don’t know how you do that, but somehow figure out a way to get your music played (loudly) at an inappropriate time or event that will make news. Just get your music heard.
Which brings us to the biggest reason why Breathless’ stunt is a failure. For a publicity stunt to really be effective it must attract the attention of people who have never heard of you before. Fact is, the only people who cared that Breathless was dead were people who already know her — her friends, family and fans. If I’ve never heard of Breathless why would I care that she’s dead? And why would her death (or better yet, her being unveiled as a fraud) provoke me to seek out her music?
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Tomorrow: A night at The Sandbox.
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Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at Lazy-i.com — an online music magazine that includes feature interviews, reviews and news. The focus is on the national indie music scene with a special emphasis on the best original bands in the Omaha area. Copyright © 2010 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.
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