Friday, November 2, 2012

Is Romney politics’ "Jesse"?

People may argue with me on this, but I think that one of the main reasons that Mitt Romney is our country's Republican nominee for president is that he had the deep pockets to promote himself for the years running up to his nomination. So I couldn't help but think of Romney when I recently re-read Fredric Dannen's classic book on the music industry, Hit Men, and came across the following passage about "The Network" (i.e. a group of so-called 'indie promoters' who bribed radio station managers to play their clients' songs):
For all its power, the Network could not make a hit record. No one could do that except the marketplace. You could saturate the airwaves with an uncommercial song and have some moderate success, but in the end you could not force people to buy a record they did not like. It is easy to find examples of “turntable” hits: records that got load of airplay but did not sell. Consider Carly Simon’s hit single “Jesse”, on Warner Bros. Records. Said an executive at a competing label, “’Jesse’ is legendary as one of the most expensive singles of all time in the amount of indie promotion money spent on it. I don’t know the actual number, but if you told me $300,000, I wouldn’t blink. The amusing thing is, it was top ten, it got a lot of airplay, but they didn’t sell any albums. It was perceived as a hit record. But the album was a stiff. So was it a successful project? Not for anybody except for the independent promoters. You can’t blame them for taking the money.”
So on November 6 it seems we will learn if Romney is the political world's equivalent of Carly Simon's "Jesse", or the real deal, more like Michael Jackson's Thriller, say, which became a hit not only because it received a ton of promo money (about $100,000 per single, according to an Epic exec quoted in Dannen's book), but also because it really was one of the best records of all time…

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