Marketeers without a clue

About a week ago, Complete Tosh drew my attention to Real‘s ill-conceived Freedom of Music Choice blog. Intended to make Real’s RealNetwork online music shop look good by slagging off Apple’s iPod, iTunes and their proprietary music format, it includes such gems as:

Consumers are getting a raw deal with the status quo in digital music, which limits healthy, open competition that drives down prices and encourages innovation. Stand up for your right to Freedom of Music Choice!


RealNetworks has launched the “Freedom of Music Choice” campaign to help consumers break the chains that tie their music devices to proprietary music downloads. We’re here to inform AND motivate.

Unsurprisingly, Freedom of Music Choice rapidly fell foul of Real’s own customers’ long memories. As Neil McIntosh says:

Someone should have told Real – hell, they should have known: pick a fight with Apple, and hoards of Mac lovers will pile in to support the company. All the harder if your own company has an utterly shitty record when it comes to looking after its own customers.

Well, now it seems that Warner Brothers Records have succumbed of the same brand of idiotic thinking that holds sway at Real.

According to the New York Times, earlier this month “Warners became the first major record label to ask MP3 blogs to play its music” when it emailed an MP3 by new band The Secret Machines out to a select group of around eight bloggers.

Initially, one might think that was a savvy move on Warners’ part. Get the bloggers on side, easily reach online audiences and give out the message that Warners understand the value of downloading.

Of course, it didn’t work out like that. The bloggers were understandably suspicious and wary of being seen as a publicity conduit for a major label, so in the end only one blog, Music For Robots, posted the MP3. That’s when it went from an idea that could go either way to a Rather Bad Idea (TM).

Comments. Some say that blogs should not have comments, but without comments we wouldn’t get to enjoy the fawning stupidity of Warners staff pretending to be punters (punctuation/spelling as per original):

This track is amazing!! Thanks for letting us listen to it!! I never heard these guys before, but theyre awesome. I went to their website and you can listen to a lot of ther other stuff, very cool andvery good!

Of course, no one would have known that the comments weren’t from real punters if a) they hadn’t been so out of step with the rest of the comments and b) they hadn’t posted from the Warners IP address, identifiable as the same one from which the original email was sent.

Ah, IP addresses will always let the unwary spoofer down.

This is the sort of thing that makes me want to bang my head against a brick wall until the nasty voices stop. Really, guys, it’s so very, very simple. But here are a few pointers for the terminally hard of thinking:

  1. Bloggers are independent people (usually). That means they think for themselves and don’t like being put on a lead. You can send a press release to a blogger, but you can’t make him blog.
  2. Blogs are authentic (usually). That means that bloggers won’t post something because you asked them to, it has to be something they believe in. In order to get a blogger to blog, you have to give them something worth blogging about.
  3. Bloggers are individuals (usually). On the whole, bloggers don’t do things en masse. Send a press release to a N bloggers, particularly bloggers with similar genre blogs, and you can expect to find that N-1 (or maybe N) won’t post it.
  4. Bloggers are awkward buggers (usually). If you want to get on the right side of the blogosphere, treat bloggers with respect. Build relationships up over time. Earn your trust.
  5. Don’t try to manipulate us. I don’t care how many meetings you sit in each week or how many besuited minions you control, you don’t control us. Not only will we fact check your ass, we will check your IP address too, and any other scraps of information that might give you away.

To paraphrase Mark Willett of Music for Robots, this is the blogosphere, not an AOL chat room.

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