Saturday, July 26, 2008

Reading Press Releases

I recently received the following press release from indie hip-hop artist Myself. Myself tried with limited success to establish himself in New Orleans, and by "limited," I mean "not very much." The project that got the most notoriety was 21-C-B Boyz - a blues/hip-hop project helmed by Chris Thomas King that paired Myself with blues guitarist Kipori Woods. Unfortunately, it wasn't particularly good blues or hip-hop. He has a new CD, Protest in Disguise, which is the occasion for the press release.

MYSELF is an Alternative / Rock artist who defies genres & defines originality.

- That's a tough line to open with, much less live up to, particularly when variations on the next phrase have been used to describe Bob Marley and Joe Strummer.

The rebel rocker, MYSELF has worked with multiple platinum and Grammy winners such as Arrested Development, The Roots, Public Enemy, blues maestro Chris Thomas King and countless other industry veterans.

- I'm suspicious of any press release that mentions other, more famous bands in the first paragraph, and I'm doubly so when I see squishy phrases like "worked with". He may have been an S1W, but he might also have been the opening act one night, and opening acts open for a host of reasons, compatability being only one of them.

MYSELF’s musical styling has been described as COUTURE {tailor made to fit every style}. He mixes & combines Punk, HipHop, Alternative Rock & Funk like never before. Being from New Orleans {birthplace of Jazz} MYSELF incorporates his signature spicy hot southern fried flavor allowing him to re-define what it is to be COOL!

- All those capital letters remind me of the days when I collected crazy religious tracts.

MYSELF has been featured on MTV JAMS, FOX TV,MTV Japan, CW Network and in magazines such as Billboard, Living Blues, and Whoofin.

- "Featured in" is another vague phrase. Did the CW air a profile of Myself, or a five-second snippet behind a scene in Gossip Girl?

MYSELF has recently signed an exclusive Licensing, Manufacturing, Distribution deal with Sumthing Distribution. Nile Rodgers is the president of Sumthing Distribution and a multi platinum producer for Madonna, Sting, David Bowie and Duran Duran.

- Note that it doesn't say Nile Rodgers signed him. Rodgers might well think Myself is perfectly wonderful, but it's equally possible that he only knows Myself as a line item on the ledger. It's also odd that the press release omits Rodgers' days with Chic, which were far more significant than most of his production work.

MYSELF will be launching his own imprint boutique record label/fashion house called Couture Music Wear. He will be releasing his own recordings, producing, writing and developing for other acts as well.

- Releasing his own records - that makes Myself like almost every other indie band.

Hitomi Okuno has been named Vice President of the Couture Music Wear Brand.

- Who, and why do I care?

MYSELF’s upcoming album release “Protest in Disguise” was recorded, mixed and engineered at the legendary Chung King Studios (original home of super-producer Rick Rubin, Beastie Boys, RUN-DMC and Public Enemy). “Protest in Disguise” is slated for an June 17, 2008 scheduled release street date.

- If Rick Rubin was behind the board again, this would mean more to me, but perfectly mediocre records have come out of excellent studios, and it will happen again.

GIANT STEP will be coordinating all the Lifestyle Marketing for the MYSELF album campaign.

- This is now a very busy press release, reintroducing Myself, mentioning a new CD (which it has barely touched on), introduced us to Nile Rodgers' distribution company (which I didn't know existed), dropped the name of his new label (which has only him as an artist), and now we meet the firm that coordinate his "Lifestyle Marketing" (which I didn't know existed). There are also occasions when jargon doesn't sound jargon-y; starting a paragraph with a discussion of his Lifestyle Marketer underlines the buzz words then draws hearts, exclamation marks and motion lines around them.

GIANT STEP specializes in grass roots alternative media focusing on third party on-line promotions, street promotions, tastemaker servicing, dj promotions and co-branding.

-More buzzing.

GIANT STEP in the past has successfully implemented marketing campaigns for (Gnarls Barkley, Outkast, Sergio Mendes, Amy Whinehouse) plus many other notable artists.

- I'd probably respond better to this if Amy Winehouse's name was spelled correctly, and if the parentheses around the list of names was there for a good reason. Are they the velvet rope in this sentence, cordoning off the A-Listers from the rest of the hoi polloi in the sentence? It's also handy to notice the verb here - "implemented." The sentence doesn't say that Giant Step successfully marketed those artists; it says they implemented their marketing campaigns. Giant Step might be the company that marketed pre-"Stankonia" Outkast and the most recent Gnarls Barkley, not "St. Elsewhere."

Industry Veteran Manager Kevin Connal will be representing MYSELF. Kevin Connal is the President of Exposure Management Group. Kevin Connal has managed/tour managed and consulted for Jay Z, Ludacris, Pharell Williams, Gwen Stefani and Red Hot Chili Peppers.

- Rather than employ vague verbs, here the press release runs three verbs into the fray, two slashed together. What's Connal doing for Myself? And what did he do for the others? Manage, road manage and consult and three very different things. I'm also suspicious because if he had Gwen Stefani and Jay-Z's manager, you'd think he'd say so instead of fuzz things up.

I count 24 names dropped, but two of those are Okuno and Connal. That's pretty dazzling, but it's a bad sign when I'm more engaged with an artist's press release than the CD it's hyping.

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