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I always love Bob Lefsetz' take on things and here's his latest on the Arcade Fire (whom I love btw). But like Bob, I'm concerned about overexposure and over-hype putting a sour spin on a great band:

I thought the Arcade Fire was anti-hype, a new band for a new generation. But they appear to be the same sold-out pricks as Good Charlotte and the rest of the egotastic bands, the only difference being they're on an INDIE label.

Oh, don't get your knickers in a twist. Of course their music is more real than that of the evanescent wannabes, but the sell...it appears curiously the same.

I mean who cares if the band is on an indie label if the act is sold JUST LIKE it's on a major label.

Why the fuck does the Arcade Fire need a gargantuan story in the "New York Times Magazine"? Is this really gonna reach the target audience? Or SNL... Is that really the cutting edge anymore? Shit, everywhere I turn there's a story on Arcade Fire, the hype is deafening, and in many instances, the band is complicit, can't they say NO?

In a world where Britney shaves her head and EVERYBODY knows within hours does an indie band truly need a scorched earth hype campaign to reach its audience? Is the problem that the band's fans DIDN'T KNOW the record was out? And by trying to reach newbies, does the Arcade Fire SHORTEN its career?

God, I thought the younger generation of musicians were supposed to be net-savvy. If something is good, EVERYBODY in the target demo is aware of it momentarily via txt, IM, even old-fashioned e-mail. And, of course, there is WEB-SURFING! But NO, Arcade Fire is using the old traditional methods to bang the message of the release of its new record.

This is fucked up. We're supposed to be living in a new world. But we've got the Shins and Arcade Fire playing by the OLD rules. God, they make Clap Your Hands Say Yeah look positively new school. The Net broke CYHSY, and although there is straight media hype, MOST PEOPLE STILL FIND OUT ABOUT THE BAND ORGANICALLY!

That's how you break a band, word of mouth. Not via top-down carpet bombing.

If I'm into a band, do I look to the ponderous "New York Times Magazine" for info? NO! I'll go to pitchforkmedia.com, which BROKE Arcade Fire, if you remember, or stereogum or hypemachine or some music blog.

If I find little Susie down the street is into the same band I am, because the deafening hype made her aware, does that make me MORE of a fan or does it make me wonder if I need to move on?

These are important issues. Because ever since the advent of overhype, with MTV, band careers have become ever more brief. Only the oldsters, who developed organically, when you couldn't get on television on a regular basis, can tour a decade after they emerged, never mind three or four.

Who gives a shit what the Arcade Fire record sounds like. NEXT!

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What a pretentious elitist prick.

If I find little Susie down the street is into the same band I am, because the deafening hype made her aware, does that make me MORE of a fan or does it make me wonder if I need to move on?

Maybe it should make you glad that a band whose music you like gained another fan? (And why would you base your decision to "move on" on who finds out about the band and from what source? What if you had told little Susie about the band, and she liked them? Should you move on then?)

Bob seems to think that a "little Susie" (which I perceive as a dismissive insult) liking a band because of "deafening hype" means the band has somehow "lowered" itself in quality or whatever. Maybe it's more the case that Susie has raised herself up to like quality music more?

Who gives a sh!t what the Arcade Fire record sounds like.

I don't know, fans of Arcade Fire's music, maybe? Not-yet-fans who might like the record?



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  • 2 weeks later...

Reply to Bob Lefsetz from Arcade Fire's representative at Quest Management:

Dear Bob,

Sometimes, you get your point through in a humorous and accurate manner. This time, you’re so far off the mark it’s a little sad.

I manage the Arcade Fire. They are the most inspiring, unique group of people I have ever been fortunate enough to work with. Everyone who works with this band feel exactly the same way about them.

There is no hype machine behind this band. We spend on average, 40 – 50% less marketing and promoting Arcade Fire than that average major release.

The band will see a royalty check at the end of every accounting cycle. We have set up unique label and distribution arrangements globally. I guarantee that no other artist in the current market place has as much control and ownership over every single aspect of their career than what the Arcade Fire have.

In the declining sales of the global market, we are aiming to be profitable selling the relatively small global numbers that we do. No-one cares about the chart positions, the radio adds or any of the standard issues that make up the daily life at a record company. We want to create awareness for Arcade Fire music. We do that from the live shows, press and an incredibly active online community that supports the band. Anything on top of that is welcome and is a bonus. If we wanted to push or “hype†this project, it could have easily been done. We said no to 9 out of 10 proposals to support the launch of this campaign. I guarantee we would have sold through 25 – 30% more if the band wanted to play the game. It’s just not them, it not what they’re about.

Pitchfork did not break Arcade Fire. They were a contributing factor, but to give one web site the credit for breaking a band, it’s just not possible.

The first interview of this campaign was with Pitchfork. Online world is aware of everything going on in Arcade Fire world. It would be great to think that this is enough to support what we do. Unfortunately, it isn’t. Doing a piece for the New York Times exposes this band to many people who simply don’t know who they are. As with any press that the band do, and they don’t do a lot, we try to keep it in balance and not have it all weighted in the NY Times, New Yorker field. There will be more pieces coming out in the months ahead that would be perceived as being more disposable.

Driving to the show in London on Friday evening, Win Butler said to me that “We are the biggest band in the world and no-one knows who we are.â€

I think that sums it all up. They don’t care to play the game. They will have a career as long as they care to have one as they have the autonomy and the luxury of being able to self fund every aspect of their career without having to rely on the purse strings of a record company.

Come and see one of the shows on the forthcoming US Tour. You’ll see for yourself that this is the real deal. Not an impostor in sight.


Scott Rodger

Quest Management

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