To Scion or not to Scion: that is the question
I wish I could have observed the Scion meeting where they decided not just to be a car company, but also a lifestyle brand.
Auto marketing is tied to lifestyle (“sport,” “green,” “luxury,” etc.), but Scion have taken this concept to new heights. They’re sponsoring free metal shows (see, e.g., commentary on Wolves in the Throne Room show; remorse by the band afterwards), they put on a huge free metal festival, and now they have an A/V arm that’s sponsoring remixes (Boris, Redman, etc.), with a fancy website whose main tabs are “ART,” “FILM, “LIFESTYLE,” and “MUSIC.”
The A/V arm even has its own iPhone app. It contains radio stations of many genres (including metal). I deleted it, though, because (a) AT&T;’s network can’t handle streaming content, and (b) the app can’t run in the background behind other processes — a basic, fatal flaw.
I wonder if Scion sees its A/V arm as a viable commercial enterprise and not just advertising. This stuff is serious. And a little curious. Presumably the point is to make Scion seem “hip.” Featuring hipster-hot artists like The Juan MacLean and Acid Girls makes sense. But metal? Do they picture metalheads running out to buy Scion cars? Admittedly, they favor hipster-ish metal (Hydra Head, Southern Lord); it’s not like they’re featuring Krisiun or Watain.
Now Scion has hired directors to do videos for bands. Above is the one for Torche’s new song “King Beef,” from their upcoming split with Boris. The song and video are both great. I’ve never been a fan of Torche, but this song sounds different for them, and I’m digging it. Scion-sponsored directors have also done videos for Pelican (here) and Acrassicauda (here); those are less interesting.
I don’t know what to make of all this. In the latest issue of Decibel (#64, Testament/Megadeth/Slayer cover, buy here), J. Bennett asks Hatebreed’s Jamey Jasta about the ethics of accepting major corporate sponsorship. Jasta answers, “They’re doing things that the labels aren’t doing.”
On one hand, I agree with Jasta. If labels can’t support artists properly, artists should be able to pursue other means of getting their music out there. If that involves an ad or corporate logo — hey, consumers can make their own choices, right?
On the other hand, underground labels might as well close up shop. Corporate resources blow those of labels out of the water. Labels are good for four things: branding, financing, distribution, and marketing. Money takes care of the last three. As for the first — Scion’s brand probably opens more doors than that of any metal label. With proper A&R;, which Scion has shown it is capable of doing, a major corporation could run a street-legit label.
What do you think?
Would you buy an album by your favorite band if Scion put it out? What if Scion treated the band better (no artistic compromise, more money for recording and touring) than the underground label your favorite band is on? What if Scion sponsorship enabled your favorite band to make a living from its music?