Katy Perry’s Failure

She appealed to all the people who didn’t care.

Her biggest album was “Teenage Dream,” and now she’s targeting oldsters who never cared in the straight media. It’s like she’s still living in the last century, in the pre-internet era, when there were limited outlets and fans were thrilled to see their heroes in mainstream publications. But now there are a zillion outlets and music fans get their stories online. They want an immediate bond with the artist. They expect interaction as opposed to media gatekeepers they do not care about writing fluff articles about their heroes.

And she broke the cardinal rule of music today. YOU’VE GOT TO RELEASE A HIT! You’d think she’d realize this after that Olympics song tanked. Perry is famous for anthems, like “Roar,” she should have put out one of those first and then bled into more image-expanding stuff. But no, she bunted when she needed a home run. “Swish Swish” is meh. It’s not a one listen smash. It appeals only to the hardest of hard core. And that does not keep you in the Spotify Top 50 these days, no way.

As for iTunes and the “Billboard” chart…THEY’RE IRRELEVANT! Perry’s fans stream, they don’t buy. And being number one on the “Billboard” chart is an antiquated concept meant to drive reorders when physical retail is nearly dead, when the only people paying attention to that metric don’t care. Do you really think Perry’s fans are concerned with her record going to number one?

We’re evolving. But Perry decided to live in the past. It won’t be long before there are no albums, just a continuous stream of product, driven by hit singles. And if you do have an album, you release the hit at the same damn time, to get all the additional streams. Think how stupid this is, putting out a teaser and building momentum for a sales event that doesn’t matter. At least, unlike in the last century, you can buy and stream the single, there is remuneration, but today you strike when the iron is hot. The new paradigm is instant release, with the hype coming AFTER the project is available. And that makes sense, you want to reap all that revenue. What does being number one on the “Billboard” chart give you…BRAGGING RIGHTS IN A SCHOOL THE FANS ARE NOT GOING TO!

And now it’s about longevity of the project. You make your money by sustaining. The short term spike hearkens back to radio and MTV, both moribund, now you’re better off bubbling under forever than rising up and falling fast. And sure, the mutual masturbators known as promotion and radio might force a record up the chart but that won’t last for long, because no one’s got the patience to wait to hear a track and the world moves much faster than that. Come on, radio is often six months to a year behind, the only people paying attention are members of the industry circle jerk and the most passive of consumers. If radio wanted to be relevant it would break records, but it never leads, and it’s doomed anyway.

And we’ve got to stop with this hype about tracks that are dead on arrival. Like Lorde. It looks like she’s gonna be yesterday’s news. She can’t come up with a track that sticks. But she too is featured endlessly in the mainstream press no one reads with hosannas. The symbiotic press/label relationship is completely out of touch with how music is consumed today, how all arts are consumed today. I’ve given up on the arts sections of newspapers, all fluff on projects that are here today and gone tomorrow. Look at the movie business, we know the day of whether a flick is a hit or a miss. You can go to rottentomatoes.com and see. Why should you be anticipating for a year, watching the nitwits on late night TV saying it’s the best movie they’ve ever been in, when it’s almost always a stiff and you know upon release. Same deal with music. I don’t want to hear the story in advance, I want to hear the MUSIC!

But it’s kinda like CDs. The purveyors want to send them to critics, want to employ their publicity departments, to make them think they’re doing something, that people care, BUT THEY DON’T!

Believe me, the target audience for these new releases knows they’re out. The younger demos follow acts 24/7. This is what the oldsters don’t get, releasing a record every three years, touring and then hibernating in between. You’re in the marketplace all the time, you’re cutting YouTube covers, you’re putting out singles, you’re in the game. You cannot win if you do not play.

And it all comes down to the music.

The problem with this Perry track is it’s got no soul. In a visceral era where we’re worried about the world blowing up the track is overmanipulated. Hell, didn’t anybody ever learn anything from the Ramones? It’s about the energy, capturing lightning in a bottle, and if you do it right you don’t need a year in the studio, you need a day or two, at most a week! Slickness is anathema. That’s all pre-Trump. The game has changed.

As for Perry’s vaunted change…WHO CARES! She’s a nitwit musician. Great she took a stand, but she lives and dies on her tunes, which are all over the map, she’s dependent upon hits, which is why ticket sales are soft. She’s a POP ARTIST! If she wants to change direction, more power to her, but she should lead with her music and expect rough going, but if that’s her heart’s desire…

So there’s really not much of a story here. Act does scorched earth publicity and expects this will drive consumption when the music is substandard.

The target audience has spoken. They don’t care, they’re not moved, “Swish Swish,” talk about a lousy title, isn’t even in the Spotify Top 50. She blew it. It’d be like the Warriors opening up the Finals with the guys on the bench, leaving Durant and Curry sitting out. And when the stars did hit the floor, not letting them take three point shots. You go with what got you here. And you put it all on the line. And this has got nothing to do with Taylor Swift going streaming the same week, and their feud does nothing to drive consumption, only fame, which Perry has enough of. You’ve got to scroll through the detritus to see the obvious. SHE PUT OUT A STIFF RECORD! It’s not terminal, all she needs is a hit. Maybe one she writes by herself that appears in a month or two. The internet provides so many tools, use the new ones, not the old ones.

P.S. Sure, she did the multi-day YouTube thing, but there was no mania, because the track was stiff. Couldn’t someone see this happening and change the plan? In the digital world you adjust on the fly, but label marketing plans are set in stone.

P.P.S. Now the news story is the lack of success! That’s what overhype will do for you. But most of the target audience has just moved on, they don’t want to fight yesterday’s war, they’re just listening to something else.

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