Walter Becker of Steely Dan is in a fix. He needs your help to figure out the best way to promote his solo album, Circus Money. The man quips: "Said campaign must be a) whimsical b) somewhat entertaining and c) congruent with, and expressive of the values, virtues and sensibilities of the Work itself."

 

TO: My Lords, My Ladies of the Royal Court
FROM: Walter Becker
RE: 'CIRCUS MONEY' Promo Vote

Proposition: A worthy and able recording artist of a certain age, ever handsome, ever spry...

...ah, let's face it: there is a certain tide in human affairs which, when taken... that is to say, to every thing - turn, turn, turn... or, to put it yet another way, fortune favors the bold, chance favors the prepared mind, luck is for the lucky...

...you can see what the problem is here, I think. So let's just say this: there is a time to "get down on it " and there is likewise a time to "get up off it." And, as pertains to me and my long rumored, closely held solo album, it is most definitely my time to get up off it and send CIRCUS MONEY toddling out into the world to seek its fortune.

Well past time, you may say, and quite rightly - and the fact is that, were I on as friendly a footing with that malodorous cigar-chomping uncle, Commerce, as I am with that fickle mistress, Art - the album would have come out long ago.

As it is, I have taken a little extra time to wrest the thing away from the "major label" who was at one time my sponsor and establish a new relationship with the kind of right-on comrades who will, I think, shape the future of the music business.

My new partners, and New-Paradigm Music companies of every stripe, may eventually find a way to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory and break all of our hearts, but they will scarcely be able to do worse than their predecessors, "the majors", in any way that I can imagine.

After the Revolution, in the ideal society of the future, there may no longer be a need for any sort of "music business" whatsoever, but in the dreary here and now, one must take what actions are necessary to allow people to hear what one has done and decide for themselves that it is, or is not, great great music, wonderful work, a masterpiece, or whatever.

In order to do this, we must first recruit the attention of our worthy audience and let as many as possible know that there is indeed a new Work ready to be purchased, purloined, downloaded and/or enjoyed freestyle, as the case may be.

In the Old Paradigm, this was known as "promotion". So, using the existing nomenclature, what I need now is the core idea for a promotional campaign, or at least the cleverest way to start one. Said campaign must be a) whimsical b) somewhat entertaining and c) congruent with, and expressive of the values, virtues and sensibilities of the Work itself. It must also reflect my understanding of the collective nature of what constitutes a community of artists and music lovers who are jointly participating in the ecstatic ritual of music-making.

Thus I am presenting several models for promotional programs or devices which we can use to make our music available to all who might enjoy it. I am going to ask you to help me pick the model which most appeals to you and in which you will feel the most luxuriantly bathed in good feeling and musical fellowship. And, in case none of the proposed models appeal to you, or if perhaps you have come up with Something Better, I will invite you to tell us all what exactly it is you have in mind which is, how-to-say, way-cool.

All right - here goes:

1) A campaign which kicks off with a "promotional stunt" - in this case, it would be me faking or simulating my own disappearance, abduction, or possible death. Such a stunt would be concocted so as to evoke thematic and stylistic affinities with the Odyssey of Homer, with Joyce's sandwich-chomping, soap-purchasing perambulator of Dublin proper, with Samuel Beckett's unforgettable "Murphy", with the eponymous hero of "Bunny My Honey" by Anita Jeram, and with the Amelia Earhart, Judge Crater, and Billy Eckstine affairs. Such a stunt would be roughed out to begin with and then adjusted on the fly to make opportunistic use of current events, real and imagined - bogus sightings, false hopes, denunciation by skeptics, etc. I would have to be willing to stay missing, abducted or dead for as long as it took to obtain the desired attention and sympathy. This last bit is the biggest flaw in this proposal, by the way, as it is exceedingly likely that no one or almost no one will give a tinker's damn if I go missing (me included). Should this be the case, I would have to be prepared to re-emerge in some new persona, some new identity, some new guise - or else move back to Polynesia and/or go fuck myself. [Vote #1]

2) A full-on unprovoked internet-based assault on my enemies, who are many - thus providing ample juicy prospective targets for insult, ad-hominem attack, accusation, etc. [Vote #2]

3) Similar unprovoked internet-based assault on my partners, friends and family members past and present, who are few and fewer still by the day. [Vote #3]

4) An insanely complex and multipronged program of promotional freebies, perks, giveaways, bonus tracks, downloads, meet 'n' greets, etc. which would be dazzling to the sensibility and very nearly, if not actually, Too Good To Be True. [Vote #4]

5) Noisy well publicized DUI/disorderly conduct/resisting arrest bust while driving sideways at speed on the Pacific Coast Highway. This would include a gruesome jailhouse arrest photo and spectacular meltdown in the form of vicious denunciation of the pernicious influence of that certain vile cult who have taken over Hollywood, the Military-Industrial-Infotainment Complex and Everything Else - namely, the Babylonians. [Vote #5]

6) Ask everybody to build beautiful scale model pyramids honoring the Legendary Fathers of Social Psychology (no ratrunners, please), using info and materials provided on and through my website. The pyramids would eventually be used to improve the sound of my (or anybody's) new CD, and to keep razors sharp. NB: for this one I would need the help of a Certain Party who has so far evinced not the slightest inclination to become useful to such an enterprise. Too bad - as Nabokov Himself wrote, " It might be fun." [Vote #6]

7) A flattering puff piece about me by my producer Larry Klein, for publication here and wherever else it could conceivably be placed. [Vote #7]

8) Tell everyone a lot more about the album, the songs, and the musicians; announce a release date; let everybody hear some of the goddamn thing or maybe some of its many dub variants. [Vote #8]

9) None of the above - [Propose]

Seen? Seen! Take it, Drone...

I'm on it!

OK Kids - Time to vote for your CIRCUS MONEY promo idea using the email links above, or click 9) to propose your own. (Javascript is required to vote. Please leave the 'Subject' Line as-is). We'll tally your opinions and get back to you with the results.

And remember - our newsletter subscribers will be first in line for everything -- so make sure you and your pals are signed up now!


Other music articles:
Jello Biafra: RIAA Reminds Me Of The Mafia
CD Liner Notes Of The Distant Present
The Pirate's Dilemma
When Pigs Fly, by Rob
Demonoid Aftermath: An Open Letter To The CRIA
Die, Greedy Swine! Die! Die!, by Little Steven Van Zandt





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March 21, 2008