The Musings Of An Opinionated Sod [Help Me Grow!]

Welcome To The Era Of The Mundane …

The quote at the top of this page is what Frank Sinatra said about Elvis Presley.

If anything was going to turn youth towards the new musical force of the King, it was going to be comments like that.

But what I find interesting is the ad industry should understand this point more than most … however, I’m not sure we do anymore.

We appear to take more delight in being accurate than being exciting.

Now I appreciate this makes me sound like an old bastard but hang on for a second …

What I find interesting – at least where music is concerned – is that in the past, it was ‘the establishment’ who were frightened of the new and misunderstood, but that seems much less the case these days.

If anything, the establishment are bored nothing is scaring them.

Now there are some explanations for this …

Some of it is because of how the music industry has changed …

Rather than breaking new talent, they’re much more interested betting on certainties, because there goal is for lowering risk not pushing things forward. [Hence their appropriation of TikTok to flog back-catalogue tracks]

Some of it is because technology has allowed music to get ultra niche …

Thanks to music streaming platforms, people can now choose the genres they like and pretty much filter out everything else. What this means is we can kid ourselves into believing there’s less new dangerous music being created when the reality is we’re keeping it out rather than welcoming it in. Add to that the decline of radio – which was a central and universal place where a lot of music discovery took place – and we are actively cutting ourselves off from the new and uncomfortable.

Finally, some of it is because the power of music is not the cultural force it once was …

Don’t get me wrong, music is still ultra powerful, but in some ways, it seems to have gone from being at the forefront of culture to the background of it. Some will say that has always been the case – the ‘soundtrack to your life’ – but for people who have always lived for music, it was rarely just an accompaniment to whatever you were doing.

For me, a lot of the ‘danger’ that used to be synonymous with music has gone into gaming.

When Grand Theft Auto came out, it was almost like punk in the 70’s.

A game both universally loved and hated for what it represented.

Rather than trying to be something for everyone, it shamelessly wanted to be everything to someone … and because of the shifts in culture, technology, media, business model and price points, it meant it could be a very lucrative business to be in .

Of course, like all industries, too many companies simply try to jump on whatever bandwagon is cool in that moment … but for me, if you’re looking for the new rock n’ roll, it’s in gaming.

That does not mean dangerous music doesn’t exist.

But it’s power to change culture is not what it once was.

It’s more likely to be found in a game rather than us discovering a new artist.

Which reveals the dirty little secret about people.

The real reason people this there is a ‘lack of danger’ in music is because we’re lazy.

In the past, we would crash into it thanks to mass radio and media – but now, with everything at our command – it requires us to actively put ourselves out there to find it and frankly, we don’t want to.

For all the brilliant things technology can do for us, it has made us lethargically comfy.

We want everything on a plate.

We don’t want to lift a finger.

And while tech could also help overcome this, it’s been designed to satisfy not aggravate … which is why the only way you’ll find the dangerous edges is if you walk towards it rather than expect it to come to you.

It’s something adland needs to remember, because while some may say ‘exciting is indulgence’, it’s got more economic and cultural power than being ‘accurate’.

22 Comments so far
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Sinatra and Elvis are still preferable to Campbell.

Comment by Billy Whizz

I mean as they are now, not at their peak.

Comment by Billy Whizz

Not as mean as the description I heard someone give about Billy Joel’s/Christie Brinkley’s daughter.

She’s got Billy’s Face and Christie’s voice.

Comment by Pete

Thanks Billy. Always so kind.

Comment by Rob

Did someone actually say that about a child? I get the humour of it but that’s fucking horrible.

Comment by Rob

Your point about establishment v excitement is good one. You can be a very successful establishment brand if you own it rather than try to compete, but its about managing decline rather than growing the base.

As for your comments about music and gaming. They’re very good. I had not considered the shift in music like that, especially in terms of excitement moving to gaming. It is bizarre that companies want their brands to be aspirational but want to bore people into it.

Comment by Pete

Bore people into excitement. The worst, most overused strategy.

Comment by George

Haha … that’s a funny way to look at it.

I’ve just spoken to someone who is now doing a lot of [begrudged] consultancy work and I asked if his opening line to clients is,

“Hello, would you like to become average? Our tools have been designed to achieve this in the most effective and efficient manner”.

Comment by Rob

you might be a fucking wimp in real life but you are a violent fuck with your mouth. no wonder i put up with you.

Comment by andy@cynic

So you’re choosing Grand Theft Auto over Metallica. Punchy.

Comment by Bazza

But both still pay him.

Comment by George

Of course.

Comment by Bazza

Your last paragraph should be printed out and placed on walls.

Comment by George

It shouldn’t because it should be obvious. But I get it. Ha.

Comment by Rob

The only thing you need to make more explicit in this post is that it is not what a brand thinks is exciting, but what the audience does. I have sat in too many meetings where I have been presented boredom by very excited individuals.

Comment by Lee Hill

And have you seen the people bands turn to for help?

Comment by John


Comment by Bazza

Double gold.

Comment by DH

all this from a prick that likes queen.

Comment by andy@cynic


Comment by DH

Music went the way of adland. Wanted to please rather than to shock.

Comment by DH

Even TBWA’s disruption is beige these days.

Comment by Pete

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