I Am A Target Market

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

I’ve not taken a decent photo for ages. This needs to be rectified, if only because a primary reason for writing here is that I love heading posts with my own pictures. Please excuse this current shameless use of old images.


I don’t get Arcade Fire. The dude’s voice annoys me, the histrionic songwriting and arrangements annoy me, and the heavy-handed compression on the debut album annoys me too. Also, I dislike epic Springsteen. This adds up to not caring enough to investigate Neon Bible. (Also, dreadful title and worse cover.) I don’t, however, begrudge anyone else liking them. Liking music is healthy, and, as an editor said to me in an email several months ago, people who like different records to me aren’t idiots; they just like different records. (Some of them may be idiots, of course, but then again so might be lots of people who like the same records.)

What I do begrudge is people who assume that liking Arcade Fire automatically makes you a more worthy or discerning or less easily-manipulated listener than liking, say, The Feeling. Arcade Fire may be better than The Feeling (in objective “who can play their instruments better” terms they’re probably not though), but that’s a totally subjective judgements call; I don’t like either (and neither of them are particularly revolutionary or groundbreaking). By choosing to like one over the other you are sadly not escaping the insidious cogs of the capitalist machinery that drives the music industry. Arcade Fire have a PR team just as ravenous for the right kind of success and exposure as The Feeling do; I know, I get their emails. So does any band who has any kind of PR representation at all, even if it’s just themselves loading tunes into Myspace. If you like music, you are being marketed to.

Case in point: About a week ago Todd Burns at Stylus emailed me suggesting I might like the forthcoming album by Battles. Battles are a manic, irreverent, experimental and largely instrumental post-rock / math-rock “supergroup” signed to Warp – about as far from the “Marks & Spencers MOR” of The Feeling and the broadsheet-approved alternative.rock.com of Arcade Fire as you can get without being Louis Sclavis. I downloaded the files of the album from the Stylus promos, and had a listen. Sure enough, I liked it a lot; Todd knows my tastes pretty well. Two or three days later, apropos of nothing, I received an email from the people doing the PR for Battles – they’d got my address from Patrick Wolf’s PR people, they thought I’d like Battles, did I want a promo of the album and was I interested in doing an interview with them for Stylus? See? I am a target market. Even something as (currently) obscure and “experimental” as Battles wants listeners, wants exposure. Don’t fool yourself into thinking you’re not being watched too.


Tuesday, March 13, 2007


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Nick Southall was born in southwest England at the tail end of the 70s, and is the youngest of three brothers. He has a degree in popular culture and philosophy and has written about music for Stylus Magazine, The Guardian and Drowned In Sound, amongst others. He likes red wine, expensive headphones, spicy food, and the Hungarian national football team of the 1950s. His favourite record is the last one he listened to. You can contact him by email via sickmouthy @ gmail dot com should you so wish.

All material copyright Nick Southall 2006/2007/2008

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