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Relative obscurity for an artist in a country is not such a bad thing. It allows these artists an escape from the mass hysteria that envelopes them in the parts of the world where they are insanely famous. This escape must be quite liberating for them – but sometimes they tend to overlook the opportunities in countries where they are not particularly well-known.
Thanks to American terrestrial radio’s incredibly limited and geocentric focus, the US in particular has become THE country for many non-American global pop stars that want to enjoy relative anonymity. The list of global sensations that fall into this category is growing. Take That, Robbie Williams, Ronan Keating, Suede, and Kylie Minogue are just a few of the prominent acts. The average American has no idea who any of these musicians are. Needless to say, the odds of any of these folks getting mobbed in the US are slim at best. That being said, all of these artists have fairly large but scattered fanbases in the US. The music connoisseurs that fall in these fanbases are discerning and look beyond the limited confines of terrestrial radio for their music. Unfortunately, they also feel a sense of alienation since they rarely ever get to see these artists (who very often are their favorites) or bands locally at a concert. Instead, they have to settle for the joke that the American music scene is and that the recent MTV Video Music Awards practically epitomized. There is no domestic community experience revolving around this music community’s appreciation or admiration. The same fan communities are significantly larger overseas and share a much more exciting dynamic.
What many artists and bands forget is the importance of communities contributing to the size of a musician’s footprint in a specific country or location. Nurturing communities around your fanbase can be a great way of establishing a foothold in a country where the terrestrial radio dynamic is your biggest enemy. Manchester quintet Take That should know this better than any other act in the world. Their comeback against all odds in 2006 is undoubtedly the biggest comeback in music history – and yet they are unknown entities in America’s mainstream. The tweet below by a Brooklyn resident illustrates this the best.
This serves as the perfect bridge to the purpose of this post. It relates to a video shoot in Brooklyn,NY on August 27, 2013. The video was for the new single “Let Me Go” by Take That’s frontman and creative core Gary Barlow. He chose to shoot his video in a residential part of Brooklyn,NY. A relatively low-profile casting call was made for “extras” for the video. The location of the shoot was not disclosed until the night before the shoot. Furthermore, the “extras” were asked to keep the location secret. The few extras that happened to be Take That fans were generous in sharing their experience through a series of tweets – which also included photos with the incredibly talented pop star Gary Barlow. Plenty of American fans (me included) had no idea where the shoot was – even though we were probably just a half-hour commute away. Massive crowds were not a legitimate concern given that Take That and Gary Barlow are not known in the US. Hence, crowd control should not been an issue in this case. For some reason, local American Take That fans were shut out from an event that they could have only dreamed of. The video shoot could have been a fantastic opportunity for a local fan meetup that included Mr. Barlow. A critical mass of die-hard American fans would definitely get the attention of the press and people around and trigger a curiosity in Take That and their catalog. The event could have also nurtured the community aspect of Take That’s fanbase. It is not clear why none of this was considered. No special investment would have been needed for the event. In a nutshell, it would have been a zero dollar investment with a great potential for reward. Yet, it was overlooked. There is value in loyal fans and artists have to do very little to nurture that loyalty – especially in a country where access to that artist is a scarcity. There is truth in the statement that scarcity induces value – and this value absolutely should be capitalized on.
I personally do not blame Gary Barlow for this since it is highly unlikely that any of this was his idea. His management or publicity firm should have known better and leveraged this opportunity. For the precious few that enjoyed the video shoot, the experience must have been amazing but one cannot help but think that it was a lost opportunity for fans and for Gary Barlow.
For those that were at this event, please feel free to comment and share anything you can from the shoot – your thoughts on the song, odd questions that you got from people that passed by, the vibe of the video – anything at all.
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