Index: Top Ten Influencers Writing About SXSW

 SXSW 2010
 
1. Mashable Blog
2. Patrick Caldwell – Austin American-Statesman
3. Fayza Elmostehi – Houston Press
4. Jay Fernandez – Hollywood Reporter
5. Pete Freedman – Dallas Observer
6. Carolyn Kellogg – Los Angeles Times
7. TechCrunch Blog
8. Mekado Murphy – New York Times
9. Deborah Stith – Austin American-Statesman
10. Wired: Beyond The Beyond Blog

 This list was developed using MatchPoint based on writers’ level of influence and relevance of content as of 3/8/10.

Apple and Apple PR

 
apple-logoApple-logo9
 

 The Biggest Release That Wasn’t Released…Yet

 

 

 

 

Many Beatles and iTunes fans spent the past few weeks speculating that The Beatles catalog would debut on iTunes at the same time as the remastering of their catalog on CD and the debut of Beatles Rock Band, making a perfect hat trick. Many in the PR community also anticipated this cross-promotion no-brainer.

However, the lack of an iTunes announcement on 09.09.09 made the Apple gathering a non-event for some. But just wait…the delay will create yet another publicity-friendly event in the future. And, even more important to Apple Inc and Apple Records, a future Beatles / iTunes event will ultimately drive more sales via more product downloads.  Steve Jobs even said, “we’ll see you soon.”

This masterful delay didn’t waste a great event and allow the iTunes availability to get buried in the PR and ad frenzy of Beatles CDs and Rock Band by Apple Records or the new iPod launches, iTunes 9 update, and the return of Mr. Jobs by Apple Corp.

After all, September is the time for releasing holiday gift choices (CDs, video games, and new iPods) not downloadable songs which won’t really drive holiday sales. It’s very smart of the two Apples to delay a deal and announcement until 2010 or later.

 

A Brief History of Beatles Repackaging 
 
The 2009 remastering project is not the first time the band’s records have been repackaged and sold amid a flurry of positive PR and fan response. If you were born post-Beatlemania, chances are your first Beatles record was not Meet The Beatles or Sgt Pepper’s, but was one of these previous top-selling collections:

2006 Love200px-LOVE

Love is a remixing, editing and splicing of a hundred or so Beatles tunes mashed together as a soundtrack for Circe du Soleil. It sounds like blasphemy to purists, but being produced by Sir George Martin makes it not only legitimate but fun to hear. I think the platinum-selling Love was also was a test for the 2009 remastering project.

 

 

 

 

2006 Capitol YearsBeatlesCapitolAlbumsVol1albumcover
200px-BeatlesCapitolAlbumsVol2albumcoverThis remixing of the first 8 US Capitol Beatles albums was the first time some of the US versions of Beatles records made it to CD.

 

 

 

 

 

2000 The Beatles 1200px-The_Beatles_1_album_cover
This is virtually the same set of tracks as 1982’s “20 Greatest” released on CD and promoted to the next generation of fans. The result: over 10 million copies sold in the US alone!

 

 

 

 

 

1995-96 Anthology 1, 2, & 3

200px-Anthology1coverNot truly a greatest hits compilation; the Anthology series featured alternate versions, demos, outtakes, and historical live performances. It also served as a companion piece to the much-hyped ABC documentary series of the same name. The Apple and Capitol promotional machine did phenomenal job making sure every person on in America knew about this release

 

 

 

1988 Past Masters Volume 1 & 2
1988 Beatles Box Set200px-Past_mastersbeatles
This release was significant as the first complete box set of all albums on CDs plus the two Past Masters CDs of singles and B-sides not available on any album. This set is virtually identical to the 2009 release but not remastered.

 

 

 

 

1982 20 Greatest Hits200px-20GreatestHitsalbumcover

Absolutely nothing special about this release – just repackaging the same ol’ songs and selling millions of copies to a new generation of fans, that’s all.

 

 

 

 

1982 Reel Music200px-ReelMusicalbumcoverfront

In the 70’s and 80’s, Capitol seemed to like to have a twist or theme to tracks repackaged and compiled. I guess this gave consumers a reason to care. This one featured only music from the Beatles movies (???). This also featured a “new” track: a medley of the Beatles movie songs taking advantage of the Stars on 45 fad happening at the time.

 

 

 

1977 Love Songs200px-TheBeatlesLoveSongsalbumcover
The repackaging theme for this compilation was obviously the band’s love songs and ballads.

 

 

 

 

 

1976 Rock ‘n’ Roll Music200px-BeatlesRockNRollMusicalbumcover
The repackaging theme for this inferior compilation was old-time rock n rolls cover tunes written by Chuck Berry and others. I assume the thought behind this choice was the fact that these cover tunes were not included in the 1973 Red and Blue albums below, even though “Twist & Shout” and others were some the band’s most popular early records. These tracks were poorly selected and remixed and the packaging looked substandard. It’s interesting that this compilation itself was repackaged four years later and split into two budget-priced albums.

 

 1973 The Beatles 1962-1966 (aka “The Red Album”)200px-Beatles19621966

 

These are the granddaddy of all compilations, great hits, and repackaging! These mega-selling albums were #1 worldwide instantly and sold well for the next two decades.

 

 

 

1973 The Beatles 1967-1970 (aka “The Blue Album”)200px-Beatles19671970

 

 

 

 

 

 

1970 Hey Jude200px-Heyjudealbum
At the time, Apple and Capitol tried to spin this release as a new Beatles album (in the US only). But the only thing new was the packaging. All tracks were previously released as singles or b-sides, but never included on previous Beatles albums. The plan worked, with the record reaching #2 on the US album charts.

The Latest Cheap Trick in Media Marketing

 
I love the fact that Cheap Trick’s latest album, The Latest, is going to be available not only via download, CD, and Vinyl, but also on 8 Track.
 
Downloads are available now via iTunes and Amazon. For those of us who prefer to actually have a hard copy with artwork, we’ll have to wait until July 21 for the CD at major retailers. And for some of us who like to argue that high-grade vinyl records offer better quality sound than CDs (yeah, I’m one of those guys), LPs will also be out later this month.
 
But 8 Track?
 
It’s brilliant! What better way to grab media attention for the world’s greatest power pop band than to announce a new 8 Track release! As of today, Tuesday July 7, there are already hundreds of stories online and in print (source: MediaQ monitoring) and hundreds of tweets on Twitter. How many journalists, bloggers, and Twits would be writing about a new Cheap Trick album without the 8 Track gimmick?

Click on 8 Track to hear stream of songs from "The Latest"
Click on 8 Track to hear stream of songs from "The Latest"

This isn’t about 8 Track tapes, which no one is really going to buy other than as a conversation piece or collector’s item. This is about knowing your target audience and executing ideas that cut through the noise. Cheap Trick does retro-cool right and always has. The 8 Track gimmick should get even more attention for what is actually a great album. I have heard several tracks (via 2009 technology, not 1977 technology) and am pleased to report that the boys from Rockford are still on top of the world. Since departing the major labels (Epic in the 80s and Warner Brothers in the 90s), the band has taken back their creative control and has spent the past 10 years writing brilliant rock and pop songs.
 
Cheap Trick proves a point frequently discussed on this blog. Buzz is not established by which media channels or tools you use to get a message out. In this case, an interesting story is getting attention, as opposed to  bad content that is just being pushed via social media or traditional channels.
 
As a side note, let me take just a minute to discuss the retro tech mentioned above. For those of you too young to have really used 8 Tracks, let me clue you in. They were horrible. While the wide tape may have given us the idea that it was higher quality than a cassette, the truth was that the wide tape was actually divided up into 4 programs with 2 channels (left, right) for each (thus, 8 tracks). The programs ran simultaneously on the same length of tape. Frequently a song would be split into 2 programs. You would hear a fade out, then “Ka-chung” as the tape player automatically switched programs, and the second half of the song would fade in. Perhaps this 8 Track stunt will also remind us how fortunate we are to now live in an era of iPods.