It worked

The scuttlebutt today is that Heirline’s “You’ll Never Run Out of Blood” has gone No. 1 in the most recent SN chart (charts are published to pions like you and me weeks after they’re actually compiled). So there you go. Rick Hendrix will take/get most of the praise/blame for this (as he probably should, more or less, even though he’s not the only one working on the promotion of the song). I confess a great deal of ambivalence about all this. As I’ve argued before, sure this is how the system works, but shouldn’t the system change? A few of you have written in to say something to the effect of, “This is how up-and-coming groups take hold, get their music out there … after all, people will start to hear a group and request their music once one of their songs makes it No. 1 - it will really start touching lives so the end result is the same. It’s just the big-wigs being jealous when the little guy succeeds.” The problem with this logic is that embedded in it are two problems. The first is a misplaced notion that some kind of sg class warfare between the differently tiered groups makes it justifiable to run a song up the charts that pretty clearly is not there because listeners started calling radio stations asking to hear the song (while this doubtless may be happening now - after the fact - to some extent, it’s logically sloppy to argue from the ends to justify the means, even though this doubtless is an expedient rationale in a pinch). Second, the success-by-hook-or-crook argument would be more convincing if the groups engaged in this method owned up to it and said, sure … we’re out to win and succeed and we’re willing to work the system to achieve our goals. But that’s not what generally happens. Certainly that’s not what’s happening in this case. Consider this from Heirline’s website in re “You’ll Never Run Out” going to #4 in the most recently published chart: “This [chart position] is one way we know that our music is a blessing and that it is getting out there to be heard.” Really?When a special ops force of promoters sends an unknown song from a little-known group up the charts, it’s more than a little unseemly for the group to turn around and say “Look … our song is touching so many lives in went to the top of the chart!” (the best you can say - the best anyone can say about chart position - is that enough djs’ lives were touched, either by our song or our promoter, that our song is a hit … without some mechanism to verify that chart affidavits reflect airplay, it’s simply impossible to make sweeping claims based on specious inferences from chart position). If you wanna know why the establishment gets so burned up over things like “You’ll Never Run Out,” a good place to start guessing might be the kinda grandstanding Heirline is doing about their current chart-topper (though of course the promotional methods are also a big stick in the craw). It’s not that unknowns don’t “deserve” to be on the charts, and it’s not that established groups haven’t used plenty of promotional aggression to get songs on the chart before (arguing moral equivalence - “everybody’s been doing it forever” - is even sloppier than arguing ends and means). It’s that when songs like “You’ll Never Run Out” end up at the top of the charts primarily because of aggressive promotions and not primarily or initially because people were requesting the song, it cheapens the success of a group like, say, the Perrys. Wanna know what it looks like when music is a blessing and when a song is getting out there to be heard? Watch the NQC 2004 Fan Awards ceremony when Libbi and Tracy Stuffle accepted the Perrys mixed group of the year award. Or ask anyone (like me) who stopped by the Perrys product table at NQC (or at least tried to) and watched the thronging hordes absolutely swarm the place to talk to the Ps, to thank them for their work, and to buy their product. That kinda response didn’t come because the Ps dogged the chart system with high-pressure promotions until fans decided they might as well listen to them since they showed no signs of going away. The Perrys rose to fame on good music. It was performed masterfully. And people responded to it. Sure, the P’s music is and has been promoted to radio. But the difference is one of proportions, and that’s what really matters in this case. It’s the difference between, say, letting go of a balloon on a sunny day (watch it rise and float magically) and firing off a missile from a shoulder-mounted RPG launcher.

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