The Zimmers

The Zimmers "My Generation"

Used to be you couldn’t reach the old farts.  They didn’t go to school, they didn’t go out to clubs, they were positively out of the loop.  Isn’t that what selling CDs at Starbucks is predicated on?  Baby boomers being out of the loop?

But suddenly, baby boomers have learned how to use e-mail.  And they can surf the Net too.  They might not know the call letters of the Top Forty station in town, but they know all about YouTube.

"My Generation" is a novelty.  Not far afield from the jokes that used to cross the Net transom back in the nineties.  But the mania, the rabidity with which this story has spread, is utterly fascinating.

Sometime in the last week I started getting links.  Today I must have gotten five.  And I’ve yet to see a story in the straight press, yet to see a story on TV.  And aren’t those the media that break stories?  Isn’t it about massaging gatekeepers to get them to say yes, to get your story out?

Not anymore.  Now you can bypass the entire system, and go straight to the public, your target audience.  And if what you’re purveying is interesting, that audience will do all your marketing for you.

Face it.  Irrelevant of its staying power, irrelevant of the execution, the Zimmers’ rendition of "My Generation" was a brilliant idea.  That’s the essence of great art, conception.  That’s why Jethro Tull is more meaningful than Mariah Carey.  Oh, Mariah’s just a pretty voice singing a song, whereas Jethro Tull made one song into an entire album!

The concept of oldsters singing the anthem of the youth, presented without irony, is a mindbender.  Weren’t these the same people who used to hate rock music?  And what’s up with the joy of the chorus?  You don’t see that much joy in the face of a rapper in a zillion dollar video.

So the conception delivers the appeal.  Execution is secondary.  It’s not about gloss, or sheen, but the idea.  And the idea has stuck.  This story is spreading at light speed.  New acts benefiting from a million dollars in marketing and promotion oftentimes don’t even sell 10,000 albums.  Oh, they get on TV, but no one talks about them.  Whereas this homey video is the rage!

Novelty videos won’t be the talk of the town forever.  Heard anybody raving about a mashup recently?  But the underlying behavior, discovering something and spreading the word…that’s here to stay.

So what’s next?  If you’re a talented diva do you have to kiss Jay Leno’s butt?  Be misunderstood on "The Today Show"?  Or can you just post your video to YouTube and your target audience will tell everybody they know about it?

Oh, admit it, you wanted to spread the word on the Zimmers, you wanted to be the first to tell your friends.  You can’t be the first to tell you friends about "Spider-Man 3".  There’s almost nothing to talk about there.  All the buzz is media-centric.  But it’s people buzz that matters.  And the way you create that people buzz is by empowering individuals, making them feel like they count, that they have a say, that they have an investment!  And this investment begets fans.  Those in on the ground floor want to wear their badge of honor at the gig, in conversation.

Oh, the top-down marketing campaigns will not die.  But everybody will see them for what they truly are, manipulations.  Whereas the fan started phenomena, they’ll have soul, they’ll last.  These new fan started acts/creations are akin to the underground FM radio bands of the sixties.  AM wouldn’t play them!  They didn’t fit the format!  So, a rabid audience embraced these acts and made them stars.  Not only listening to them on the radio, but buying their music and going to see them live.  It was a whispering campaign that brought people to Monterey Pop and Woodstock, not a marketing assault.

This is the worst nightmare of the powers that be.  Because their power is based on control of the marketplace.  That’s why the major labels fought file-trading, not because they were wary of having their assets stolen, but because they were afraid their monopoly on distribution might be broken.  If you can get distributed and paid by yourself, what do you need the major for?  The marketing.  But is all that marketing helping you, or hurting you?

Everything I’ve said above is well known by  Web-surfers.  It’s second nature.  They can tell you what’s real, and what isn’t.  They can go on about discovery.  They believe the old ways are decrepit.  The only people touting and propping up the old system are those involved in it.

The Net changes everything.  It eliminates the middle man.  It begs different assets be promoted.  Train-wrecks get traction, but briefly.  Quality lasts, just as long as you don’t oversell it.

One Response to The Zimmers »»


    comment_type != "trackback" && $comment->comment_type != "pingback" && !ereg("", $comment->comment_content) && !ereg("", $comment->comment_content)) { ?>
  1. Pingback by April 26th, 2007 – 1st Paragraph .com | 2007/04/26 at 04:37:57

    […] chinTracker (‘/outgoing/’);” href=”” target=”_blank”>
    Written by Pejman Habibi on April 26th, 20 […]

comment_type == "trackback" || $comment->comment_type == "pingback" || ereg("", $comment->comment_content) || ereg("", $comment->comment_content)) { ?>

Trackbacks & Pingbacks »»

  1. Pingback by April 26th, 2007 – 1st Paragraph .com | 2007/04/26 at 04:37:57

    […] chinTracker (‘/outgoing/’);” href=”” target=”_blank”>
    Written by Pejman Habibi on April 26th, 20 […]

This is a read-only blog. E-mail comments directly to Bob.