Those of you that have been checking in for a while are probably aware that I have been living without T.V. for several years now. I’m not trying to make any kind of a social statement or anything. I don’t have a beef with T.V., I just don’t have one that’s all.
Anyway, lately I’ve been watching stuff at Hulu and I really like it. They have the complete Alfred Hitchcock Presents. A couple of nights ago, I started watching them in order. I love having something like that “on demand”. It gives me some hope even though I am the anti-demographic.
Hulu has ads sprinkled throughout the programming but, not as much as regular network programming. They have 15 second and 30 second spots.
One spot that is in heavy rotation over there is a Christina Aguilera ad for Target. Now, I don’t know if it’s the same one they are showing on regular T.V. or not. There are probably several versions. The one I keep seeing is a 15 second job that starts out with Christina introducing herself from the set of her new Target commercial. It’s like a “behind the scenes” kind of thing. “Hello, this is Christina Aguilera on the set of my new Target commercial”; something like that.
I’ve seen this a number of times and a couple of things stand out. One is that it’s a commercial about a commercial. The other is a part where she says something about the wonderful fans whose support allow her to “do what I love” or something along those lines.
Both of those illustrate the fact that we are a long way from the primary focus and getting further away. A commercial about a comercial implies that the ad campaign, the corporate partnership, the branding, all of that, is the event. The record isn’t the big thing.
I’m glad Christina is doing what she loves but, what is that? If you asked Sarah Vaughan, “What do you do?” Simple answer; “I’m a singer”. If Aguilera was just a singer, Target wouldn’t have anything to do with her. She is a multi-media symbol, a brand. Target is in for what she symbolizes not her singing or even how many records she’s sold.
The music business has never been above promoting/selling a pretty face. That’s nothing new. But, the primary focus was always selling music. All the other stuff, the merch., the deals; that was all peripheral. The deal didn’t happen without the music happening first.
Nowadays, the peripherals are the revenue streams. That’s what the 360 deal is all about, the merch. the ticket sales, the licensing, the branding opportunities. All of the peripherals are more products of the spectacle, image and recognition than they are of the music. The music is harder to sell than all of that stuff. The peripherals can be contrived, conjured up.
So, the question is; Are the peripherals, the new and coming revenue streams, sustainable?
I think yes they are sustainable. But, is the music necessary to sustain them? Put another way, why does Target need the next Christina Aguilera? Can they accomplish the same thing by partnering with any spectacle/image with recognition? For that matter, why do they need an industry to supply the next big thing that isn’t even in the business of the primary focus?