Thursday, March 06, 2008

Another Shameless Promotion?

Back in 1999, I was introduced to a young lady at a music conference worked in video promotion. That was odd enough. After nearly 10 years in the game at that point, I thought I knew everybody. Yet, here was this person who I had never heard of who worked for a company who'd name I didn't know. I asked a couple of questions about her work and she wasn't forthcoming. The more I pried, the less she said and soon the person who introduced us was giving me that look.

Later, I found out what she and her company were up to. She was in video promotion, all right. The outfit she worked for, named after a popular condiment, performed a special service for record companies. They would make repeated calls to MTV's request line in support of the project of whichever label was paying them. They were able to move songs up the charts and appear more popular than they really were by plugging up the phone lines with dubious "requests." I was floored.

I was also very naive. When mentioned this practice to a friend at one of the West Coast's top rap labels. She mentioned she was doing something similar in her office. They were using a mentally retarded person who worked in the office to call video channels when he wasn't dumping wastebaskets.

When I read this morning that Youtube's most watched video ever( 89,750,739 views), a blogger-made clip for Cansei de Ser Sexy's "Music Is My Hot, Hot Sex," might have had its ranking inflated by "bots," it reminded me of what I learned about the inside of the promotions game. I can't say a record label or a saucy marketing company is behind this effort, but I'm sure they're taking notes.

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