Let’s Go Brandon

Sales don’t matter.

Which is hard to believe in an era where seemingly every #1 is based on sales. You can no longer game the chart by giving away albums with tickets, so now there are these vinyl packages, most of which are souvenirs, many of which go unplayed, their owners don’t even have turntables, but that doesn’t mean the purveyors can’t sell them to go to #1 for a week, meaning you should never ever trust the “Billboard” chart…NEVER! Never mind that we’re even talking about sales in the streaming era. We live in an on demand culture, buy any movies on DVD lately?

And then comes today’s propaganda:

“4 versions of scathing anti-Biden rap ‘Let’s Go Brandon’ now in iTunes Top 10”: https://bit.ly/3pQmS8L

If you’re unaware of the “Brandon” phenomenon this article will explain it. Anyway, in a bit of right wing gamesmanship, the conservatives are doing their best to own the libs, even ramping up their publicity machine, with all of their bloviators on social media pushing the message, but…it doesn’t mean anything. Go to Spotify, “Let’s Go Brandon” is not in the Top 50, as a matter of fact it has almost no impact at all. As of this writing the track has a grand total of 565,434 streams on Spotify. #50 on the Spotify Top 50, “Freaks,” by Surf Curse, has 364,314 streams A DAY! As of this writing “Freaks” has 287,974,290 streams on Spotify. In other words, the right wing tried to own the libs and nobody noticed, it had no impact, other than in the echo chamber they reside in. You see today it’s not about sales, but CONSUMPTION!

This is a sea change the oldsters are still upset about and the wannabes are complaining about. It all comes down to how much people want to listen to your music. As for the iTunes Store, sales have been decreasing for years. So it’s no longer about a one time action, BUT A CONSISTENT BEHAVIOR!

Getting people to spend a buck at the iTunes Store is wholly different from getting them to spend hours listening to a song. And if you try to game Spotify by having a campaign of endless repeats of a song, the company’s data can pick up on this and quash it. So, creating a sustained fake hit is essentially impossible. No, IT IS IMPOSSIBLE!

So that’s the music business. Completely transparent, you just look at the Spotify stream count, which usually exceeds the YouTube stream count, because music lives on Spotify, not YouTube…which is really for the incredibly young and the incredibly cheap, not to mention there’s a free, ad-supported tier on Spotify. YouTube is lousy for music, despite the company’s disinformation campaign saying otherwise.

But the music industry doesn’t like transparency, it’s their worst nightmare, so they employ smoke and mirrors to make you think something is a hit when it is not, and then hopefully there will be enough momentum that it actually will become a hit. Sometimes this works, but it’s nearly impossible for anybody but a major label to pull this off, you need money and relationships and commitment, and it doesn’t always work for the big boys either, then again their bottom line depends on tonnage, they’re not interested in a million plays, you’ve got to get about 100 million plays before they even begin to get interested!

As for the news/press… We can debate all day long whether Biden is doing a good job. Then again, there no longer is debate, just two major silos, on the left and the right, which barely intersect. And truth doesn’t even matter. So, if you want to use modern systems to make a difference, look at the end result, not the press story. Did your action truly move the needle, are people listening to the track? BTS fans signed up for tickets to Trump’s Oklahoma rally and changed the outcome, the Trump team thought there was huge demand, they even erected a secondary stage outside, but this wasn’t the case, most of the ticket requests were fake. End result, attendance was low and it looked bad for Trump and those truly paying attention learned that it was motivated youths online who moved the needle, and that demonstrated a new level of power, as opposed to running up some novelty track on iTunes.

If someone in the music business starts quoting iTunes numbers, laugh. They’re really stretching for a metric to make their case. And it gets even worse, someone will tell you their track/album is #1 on an obscure chart you’ve never even heard of, like Caribbean Children’s Music. That’s today, where there’s always a number to support your case, which means savvy people investigate and dig for the truth. But many people don’t really care about the truth, it’s all about team politics, winning. Which is why you’ll hear that vaccinated people are more contagious than the unvaxxed, I kid you not.

So what we’ve got here is a tug of war, between the oldsters and the youngsters, between people who want facts to stand and those who want to manipulate the facts to say something else. And if you’re just a casual consumer, surfing by, you might get a completely inaccurate picture of what is going on, especially in the era where it’s so hard to get people’s attention and deceptive, sensationalist headlines are employed.

The old want the game of the past to maintain. And they don’t understand the tools/methods the youngsters use to manipulate today’s game. We thought the internet would propagate truth, but just the opposite has happened. We have hard numbers in the streaming business, but no one wants to use them, because they’re immutable, they show whether people are listening to a song, and too many make excuses if people do not. “It’s only young people who stream.” “I made so much more money in the CD world”… I’m not saying the streaming world is perfect, but it’s the most accurate we’ve ever had. People bought albums and played them once. Now, in the on demand world, it comes down to whether people actually listen to your music. And in a world where you’re competing with the greatest hits of all time, never mind the hit records of today, that’s very hard to make happen.

Then again, the winners of today mean less than the winners of yesterday, their reach is less, there’s just too much in the marketplace.

Confused yet?

That’s exactly how they want you to be.

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