*Opinions. … We all have them, and most of the time, we tell others to keep ‘em to themselves! However, columnists are given space to express their opinions. And, thanks to Lee Bailey, I now have a column. So beginning this week, I will herein expound on my thoughts and feelings relevant to or in the vicinity of entertainment marketing.
On that note, let me say this: I believe one of the most accurate and prescient predictions made about the 21st century was Andy Warhol’s 1968 pronouncement that, “In the future, everyone will be world famous for 15 minutes.”
True dat. And dare we think we are more infinitely talented and interesting than our predecessors,(your grandmother probably cooked just like Paula Dean, but did she have a show?) consider what I believe to be the fundamental reason for the sudden proliferation of “fame”: DISTRIBUTION.
Warhol and hip-hop taught us the importance of distribution. Break the corporate chains on distribution, gain access to the masses, and you can blaze your own trail, forge your own brand. In the music business, distribution/access had always been the insurmountable hurdle for independents seeking access to that critical mass audience, the elusive “mainstream,” the true path to “success” (read: fame and fortune). Now, consider what “mainstream access” meant before the days of “American Idol,” the iPod, iTunes and, most important, the Internet. … Exactly. There was none. And, just like Warhol changed the art business in his day, rap and technology -by design and default- changed the music and branding business in our day. Both proved how massive media exposure and lucrative sales were possible by employing alternative means of distribution.
Still waiting for your ship to come in?
Rest assured, if you haven’t already experienced your 15 minutes of worldwide fame, it’s surely on the way. The advent of YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, 24-hour news/entertainment channels and reality television have made it apparent, you do not need a production crew, Oprah’s studio or a monied sponsor to orchestrate your global digital moment. And if all else fails, a scintillating sex video captured on your flip phone with a B/C/D-list artist can still reap 15 minutes of fame, reach millions of people and lay the framework for a multiplatform product extension empire that will make you rich. (Can you say “Kardashian”? … *sigh*)
Fame is just a viral YouTube video away! … Why hold just relatives, friends and random strangers hostage with pictures on your iPhone of your little darling when she could be really and truly FAMOUS?! … Besides, it’s so passé to think “FB friends” should be relegated to people you actually know. Friends – as Andy Warhol knew (and Facebook’s billion dollar IPO proved) – are your marketing fanbase! CULTIVATE them! USE them! DEVELOP your targeting: ADD more people!! You must get past the 150 people you think you know to the 5,000 and beyond who – of course! – want to follow your angel’s every move!!!!! Reach your friend limit and flip a page! Get with it!! Chop, chop, people!!!!
… Or, YOU can be discovered! Consider posting your bootylicious dancing to Beyoncé’s latest hit on your FB page to let EVERYBODY see it! Maybe it’ll go viral! Better yet, upload your slammin’ video to YouTube and maybe, just maybe “Good Morning, America,” “Inside Edition,” “ET” and (fingers, toes AND eyes crossed!!!) “TMZ” might air it!!! After all, it’s free content! Yayyyyy, look it’s YOU!!!!!!
The potential is unlimited – 15 minutes eternal!
What’s that? You have no discernible talent of any kind whatsoever? No problem!!! Do you have a notorious lifestyle, boyfriend or wardrobe that puts you at risk? An odd job … no job? An extreme addiction, predilection or knowledge? … Something? … Anything?! … (No, seriously, at this point, we’ll take anything. … Is, by chance, your bichon friese depressed? Or acting out? Peeing in your shoes? … ‘Cause, for real, we can make that work!?) .
The point of your 15 minutes is: Just Do You. Show your experience. Tell your story. It’s called “user-generated” content. And yes, there’s a platform for that. (And probably an app!) … Now’s the time to own your reality. Start with a “your name” URL (Buy it! Now!), then put it to work! Develop your reality show. Who doesn’t deserve one, right?!
Social media and the Internet offer a plethora of distribution channels – all pipelines that must be fed. In fact, I hear my Facebook page calling me right now for a status update: “Feed Me!” it beseeches … (Oddly, it sounds just like Levi Stubbs as “Audrey” in “Little Shop of Horrors.”)
Oh, and don’t be concerned about talent, because demand will far outweigh such mundane considerations for quite some time. (Please don’t be offended. You are a STAR, boo!! Believe it!!!! … But, dig it – the pipeline will need a new star tomorrow, so hey, [*shrugs*] what you want? … Heck, a seasonal TV show is only 6 episodes these days?!)
But forget all that – you be fearless! Content providers need not be concerned with artistic merit or criticism – critics be dammed! How many views/unique visitors you got? These portals of commerce and mirth must be constantly stoked, right? … Right?!
Warhol knew that the perfect confluence of contextual, cultural mash-ups (btw, is everybody black now?) combined with massive media access (aren’t we all connected these days?) fueled by the pedestrian desire for fame and fortune (who doesn’t want to win that lottery?) would one day make us look at the world and the people we consider “celebrities” differently. (And by “differently,” I’m pretty sure he meant look at them and wonder,” What the hell was I thinking?”)
Once the technological platform exists, there must consistently – and always! – be new talent to fill the ever-present void it creates for the latest, biggest, newest. Today, as Snoop Dogg noted, “The game is to be sold, not to be told.” Or as Jay-Z succinctly explained about real life being a part of the creative process: “My pain = your amusement.”
On the other side of this coin, let us not lose sight of the good this medium has made possible. … Got a purpose beyond fame, actually trying to help people (bless you!)? Today, you can spread a message and reach millions around the world simply by reaching out to the world on the Internet (see: Arab Spring, Occupy Wall Street and sadly, Trayvon Martin). The unknown YOU can speak truth to power and gather thousands, hundreds of thousands – maybe even millions – of online signatures to support you and your cause.
Ultimately, we must embrace the times we live in, my people. I’ve always said, “life is a pimp and ‘ho game.” I just didn’t realize I’d be playing both positions – all the time! …. So, set up your website. … Tell the world about yourself. … Sure, it’s hard work, because it requires brand management, and that (pimping) ain’t easy. … But hey, if the Supreme Court can say corporations are now people (they did), then people can say they are now brands (they are). … So, this is your branding moment … your 15 minutes. … Make it count. You better work!
“… Six minutes … six minutes … six minutes, [your name here], you’re on!”
About the Author: Jacqueline Rhinehart is the president and founder of Organic Soul Marketing, a consultation firm that integrates entertainment concepts into creative marketing, publicity and branding opportunities. She is the author of My Organic Soul, From Plato to Creflo, Emerson to MLK, Jesus to Jay-Z (Broadway/Random House). With a career span of 30 years in music, she is a masterful omni-media strategist, creating, developing and implementing memorable campaigns in music, entertainment and lifestyle industries. She is a native of South Carolina and Brooklyn, NY. For more information visit Jacqueline’s website at: www.jacquelinerhinehart.net or www.organicsoulmarketing.net; email her at: [email protected].