Here’s what you could have won, EMI

Very interesting piece in today’s Guardian about OK Go, whose latest video, for new single This Too Shall Pass, has been watched over 8m times on YouTube, but has not sold them very many records. This, I guess, is an obvious downside to viral marketing and internet buzz and the world in which we live where The Kids don’t expect to have to pay for anything. Anyway, it really does need seeing, if you are among the tiny handful who have not yet seen it. The key fact I learned from the piece was that EMI did not want YouTube viewers to be able to “embed” the video, as I have done, and thus share it around. So OK Go parted company with EMI. As the writer says, “It’s clear EMI has no idea how to promote bands in the internet age, but also scary that bands like OK Go might be ill-equipped to survive in places that aren’t the internet.”

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20 thoughts on “Here’s what you could have won, EMI

  1. I fear OK Go's main problem is that regardless of their video creativity, their music is, well, a bit bland. But not bland in a "mainstream" way like Coldplay, Keane or latter day Athlete, but akwardly "edgy bland". This could be the reall reason they're not doing so well- they make a sort of music which does require you to be good to get sales, where those buying are not swayed by fancy videos or marketing campaigns, but are more likely to check out the whole album by legal or otherwise means (Spotify or piracy) before buying it. People like me.I'm not impressed. The music just fails to excite me in any way.

  2. I have a soft spot for OK Go. I saw them supporting Brendan Benson (I think) about 5 years ago. They did the Million Ways dance live on stage and I just thought they were awesome. I got their album and then their first LP on the back of this (those were physical purchases by the way). I kind of know what you mean Al when you say "awkwardly edgy bland" but felt I had to stick up for them.Their dance videos etc have turned them into a bit of a novelty act whereas if you check out some of their tunes you find there's more to them than this (e.g. Oh Lately It's So Quiet of the 2nd album is a tune about a love affair with a ghost). Hey they had Roger Joseph Manning Jr (ex of Jellyfish) on keyboards on their first album, so they can't be bad.

  3. I just purchased the album on account of that video, possibly a bit rash but on the whole it's apretty good album which I think is likely to grow on me over time. It is a shame now the record company are so afraid to embrace this relatively new way of promoting bands, everyone else in the world seems to know how to exploit it but if just seems to pass them by. The fools

  4. Spot on Andrew – once a week my blog features a pop video, and there have been several occasions when I've passed over my initial choice because the record company were 'protecting' their product from being promoted by me by the means of embedding. So I promoted something else instead.

  5. I like the songs as much as the videos. I bought all the albums (on CD, I just can't kick the habit), and while the first album is a little on the forgettable side, both Oh No and Of The Blue Colour of the Sky easily bear repeated listens.

  6. I'd agree with anyone saying the song is bland, but I'm pretty bored by these chain-of-events videos too. They're always inventive but, you know, it's been done before. And you're always left with the suspicion that there's a lot of CGI going on.There was a (I think) French video a year or two ago where the singer had rigged up this sort of thing in the flat so that when his girlfriend came home it ultimately told her that he loved her. It was a fairly boring song and the video was less ambitious than this. But at least the two were more or less about the same thing. And if you wanted to get all Natasha Walter about it, the video had something to say about men too that rang true.This video just seems to say to me, "Aren't we clever?" I can see why Honda would want to say that. "This is what we do when we're not designing cars." That makes sense.This looks like an advert. It has the sort of inoffensive, non-intrusive, and totally irrelevant soundtrack you (don't) hear on adverts. And it exudes the kind of cool that big corporations pay millions to have reflected upon them by their advertising. The kind that only makes you hate them more. It may have been seen by 8m people but it's no more surprising that they didn't buy the record afterwards than that they didn't buy paint, or pianos, or rubber balls, or a warehouse.

  7. Okgo are a great live band and whilst the singles are entertaining, there are other great tracks on the albums. I saw them live an an instore in Fopp a few years ago and they were just fantastic – give them a proper go and forget the video hype

  8. Dave, you definitely win this week's prize for Most Miserable Comment On My Blog! Let's hope OK Go either kill themselves or deliver a video that's just the four of them playing their instruments, eh?

  9. For myself, the video was so cool that i watched it several times and the song has now grown on me. There is also another video to the same song that is worth a look. Simpler, but in many ways better.

  10. ell it worked for me, in that after I watched the video for This Too Shall Pass, I went and bought the album. The weird thing is though that it was the first video for this song (the version with the matching band) that did it for me, not this one… But I didn't realise I was in such a minority! Then again, I think there's an interesting presumption in that piece that the number of sales are the only thing that matter. The vast majority of bands (and, indeed authors and comics etc, come to that) are sustained by their relatively small but real fan-base. These fans will buy everything, go to gigs, create fanclubs (nowadays on the web of course) and so on. All the internet has really done is enable that fanbase to be found more quickly (since it used to have generally to be done by radio play or bootleg tapes etc), but I'm not sure that it has necessarily caused the average size of said typical fanbase to increase significantly. OK Go are clearly not a "commodity" band, promoted by a label solely to make money. So the size of their album sales is not supremely relevant to the case.This is one of the reasons why I've always thought that the internet piracy argument was something of a red herring. If you're a "fan" you're going to buy the stuff anyway. If you're not, then either you probably never were going to buy it, or – more rarely – you become a fan. (After all, we all know how home taping killed music.)– Davidp.s. On a separate point – why does the Guardian piece call it a "Rube Goldberg" machine? Here in the UK we have a perfectly acceptable equivalent concept (Heath Robinson) but once again US cultural hegemony seems to insist that only their reference points have any meaning.

  11. If your entire song sounds like a Folk Implosion refrain then you're in trouble from the beginning. I would doubt that they left EMI over the issue quoted, you'd have to imagine their failure to monetise (hate that word but hey) these videos suggests they were pushed and did not jump. Possibly cynical but probably right.The reason for this has to be the quality of the music, in a age where anybody can hear anything for free – all the marketing, reviews and hype in the world cannot make a turd float. In the olden days (sonny Jim) when you mostly had to go on word of mouth bad press and/or bad marketing could kill an album but these days, since anyone can hear them before release, a poor album can practically commit suicide while genius can seem to come from nowhere.I hope for a day when the millionaire artist is a distant memory, musician becomes a job with merely a decent salary, The Industry as we know it is long gone and quality music can be bought direct from the artist at a price that doesn't include ten layers of profit. Y'know, like what Indie music was in a dream once.Freedom for Tooting!

  12. The bigger issue for OK GO is how much they're going to make in royalties (or not) from google who own youtube and are making money on the back of this video. EMI are clearly idiots and don't deserve to be left in charge of their massive archive and catalogue. OK GO might look back on this and question their decision. I hope not but I fear they might be swallowed up in the flotsam and jetsam of the internet.

  13. Interesting article. In the good old days the music video helped to sell the single as that was the only way to enjoy the music on demand and partly because if the single sold as result you'd get to see it again on Top Of The PopsNow that music videos are accessible 24/7 wherever you are, who needs to buy the single?

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