Thursday, July 19, 2007

Dumbing down to the Tween Market

Created bands/singers are nothing new and they completely have their place in our culture. I can make an argument that without them, kids may not develop a love of music. My love for The Monkees exists to this day. I have much respect for Mike Nesmith's songwriting. They made great records that hold up better than most Madonna records do. How could you fail with people like Carole King writing your material?

Today's Wall St Journal has a article on The Jonas Brothers and the Disney machine behind them. Columbia took a shot with one brother, who was a budding Christian pop artist, found out he had two more brothers that were musical and they put a record out as a trio. It was described as Green Day light. They sold about 62,000 copies, which isn't so dreadful in this day when you figure their biggest champion, the label head, had exited before the release and it wasn't promoted. When Columbia released them from their contract, Disney stepped in. On Disney's label they now have access to the Tween marketing machine behind High School Musical and Hannah Montana.

Here's where the story goes south and why the music industry is in the toilet. They're painting an awful image of their consumers.

Jill Casagrande, the senior vice president and general manager of Radio Disney, says the Jonas Brothers are a rare act that bridges the preteen gender gap. "Boys identify with them," Ms. Casagrande says. "And girls love them because they're cute.

That last line struck me. It says to me that Radio Disney's perception of what girls listen to or make decisions on is guided by superficial things such as looks. Music is such an important part of most kids lives. Why is a woman of this caliber portraying her audience as a bunch of dim wits?

The following reinforces how far records labels will take themselves out of music to sell a record:
"Today one of our main challenges is making music available to the consumer who isn't just looking for music," says Hollywood general manager Abbey Konowitch. The Baby Bottle Pop displays, he says, give exposure to "the candy buyer as well as music buyer."

The Jonas Brothers website is directed to Hollywood Records site. The first thing you see is an ad to pre-order their new record.

Consistently putting out quality records should be a label's first priority. Thank God for indie labels like Amoeba Records, the newly formed label from the West Coast record retailer. Look for quality releases, Brandi Shearer and The Gram Parsons Archive Vol 1 from the label in the next two months.

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