Former IFPI director of strategic research Keith Jopling thinks bands and managers should be wary of the hype machine (as opposed to The Hype Machine) when building a fanbase. While the annual ‘next best thing’ and ‘best thing of last year’ polls may seem a quick route to popularity, in a post on his Juggernaut Brew blog he points out some of the downsides.
“The exposure is great, but the potential for over-exposure and worse, backlash, seems a very real risk. Analysis of both albums made and sales from each album reveals ever- shortening life-cycles for modern day pop artists. Looking back to one year ago – the collective ‘buzz’ being generated around any number of new bands that included The Horrors, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, Palladium – was almost claustrophobic.”
He also points out that if such a thing as the Long Tail exists, it’s “currently being well stocked with an ever-increasing volume of short career span artists, who were ‘this year’s big thing’ at the time but never got past album two in the end.” Jopling’s view is that managers and labels should resist the hype machine and focus on longer term development of their artists.It’s definitely a valid point, although it’s also interesting to note the differences between the kind of polls he’s referring to. Taking The Hype Machine’s Zeitgeist chart as one example, it’s based not on industry-manufactured hype, and more on what actual bloggers have been blogging about. Can labels and managers control this? Probably not, although making an effort to engage with these bloggers is clearly an increasingly important part of the more considered approach to artist development that Jopling is talking about.The ‘next big thing’ polls are more nebulous, since they’re generally based on the opinions of ‘experts’ – who often go on what they know will be pushed that year by the industry. Witness the buzz around Duffy in the prediction polls last January – a role seemingly fulfilled by Little Boots in this year’s polls.