Don't believe the hype. Its success had little to do with the marketing campaign. Other than it motivated core fans!
That's the story here. Kind of like when Apple introduces a new product. Daft Punk fans, earned over two decades, track the band incessantly, and when they heard a new record was imminent, they couldn't stop talking about it. They're the ones who made the SNL ad and the Coachella video go viral. Otherwise, the ads were dead in the water. I.e. nobody who didn't care before cared now, the ads didn't wake up the masses, the fans did!
Not that every fan is happy with "Random Access Memories." Many are angry that it's a return to the seventies as opposed to a step forward into the electronic stratosphere.
But one thing "Random Access Memories" has that most albums do not is a hit single.
And a hit is not something that can be quantified, rather it's something you HEAR, that makes you feel warm and excited and energized and desirous of nothing so much as playing it again. The launch pad was primed, but it was "Get Lucky" that ensured blastoff.
And now with streaming media, we live in a totally different era. The listening threshold is tiny. Used to be you had to wait to hear multiple tracks on the radio, distill public opinion, only fans bought without hearing first. But the buzz has caused immense streaming on Spotify.
This is the new model:
1. A long hard slog of a career. Instant is for pussies. True musicians are lifers.
2. Energization of the fan base. Gatekeepers have never had so little power. And I say good riddance. Because unlike fans, gatekeepers are not loyal. Program directors can find a zillion reasons not to air your follow-up single. But a hard core fan will always check it out.
3. Excellence is key! Not only is the single fantastic, the rest of "Random Access Memories" is highly listenable.
BUT WAIT BOB! YOU SAID THE ALBUM WAS DEAD!
But there are exceptions to every rule.
Exception number one… Excellence eviscerates all rules. If you're fantastic, you need no social media presence, you don't have to do anything but release your music.
Exception number two, a sub-set of number one…"Random Access Memories" is playable through and through. And that's a rarity today. Oh, the hard core fan base might play your album, but the hoi polloi will not, which is why your career is stuck. In the Internet era, we only have time for great. So if you can deliver this, and I can't think of another album in 2013 that has, go ahead and make your album. Otherwise, continue to woodshed and be in the public eye.
Yes, that hearkens back to Exception Number One also… Justin Timberlake went on a scorched earth publicity campaign to sell his album. The label had to force the single up the chart. It all worked, but isn't it interesting that Daft Punk required no Grammy appearance, no hosting of SNL, no endless hype to break their album.
Then again, Daft Punk sold three hundred thousand-odd albums and Justin Timberlake three times as many.
But this is a good thing. It allows room for growth.
Yes, there's time for the uninformed to get on the gravy train. In a world where everybody's overwhelmed, many are immune to hype, they're busy with other things, they come to the party later. And that's fine. That's even better. Continued slow growth keeps you in the public consciousness.
Also, one can argue that "Random Access Memories" is a streaming phenomenon. That sales are on an old metric.
One thing's for sure, "Random Access Memories" is the album of the year. The one everybody's talking about. With almost no backlash. It's closer to "Rumours" than it is to "The 20/20 Experience."
Meanwhile, you should check it out:
GIVE LIFE BACK TO MUSIC
Taking their cue from the Rolling Stones, who perfected this paradigm, Daft Punk knows you've got to start your LP with a killer cut. "Give Life Back To Music" grabs you instantly, and that's necessary in the Internet era. And you'll love Nile Rodgers's guitar.
DOIN' IT RIGHT
The surprise cut! The one that got little buzz, as opposed to the ones with Giorgio Moroder and Paul Williams, "Doin' It Right" is a classic album track, the one that won't get airplay, but becomes your favorite. It puts a smile on your face, especially when the untreated vocals begin.
By all rights, this should be awful. With a vocal by Buzz Aldrin. But I LOVE this! And you will too!
And, of course, there's "Get Lucky"…
"Random Access Memories" is the first album in eons I don't want to take off, that I don't want to abandon to listen to something else. It's the album that shouldn't have been made. An expensive project in an era when everybody bitches they can't afford to cut endlessly in the big room. A seventies album in the twenty first century.
I'd like to say many more "Random Access Memories" will follow. But I know this is untrue. Because no one wants to put in the time, the focus today is on the trappings instead of the music, people believe if everybody knows your name, you're home free.
BUT IT DON'T REALLY HAPPEN THAT WAY AT ALL!
Music still rules.
P.S. Want to know what it was like in the seventies, listen to "Random Access Memories."
P.P.S. This is just the beginning. Next comes the tour. Wherein Daft Punk will be bigger than both the Stones and U2. Just you wait and see!