Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Common still shooting for the Zune

Yahoo tech news gets cautiously excited about Common's tie-up with Zune, although not too excited:

A video for the title track on hip-hop veteran Common's forthcoming album, "Universal Mind Control," begins with a digital music player pulsing to the beat. The viewer is pulled through the screen into the gadget's guts, where the cool, collected rapper lets loose an easy stream of lyrics.

It takes hitting rewind a few times to notice that the music player isn't one of Apple's slim new iPods. It's a Zune, and it's made by Microsoft Corp.

Perhaps Microsoft will feel flattered that you have to look closely to realise it's not an iPod, but a Zune. On the other hand, they could feel a bit deflated that unless you watch carefully and repeatedly, the average viewer is going to assume they're seeing the guts of an iPod.

At the other end of the telescope, there's a broader question of just how Common - a man paid by Microsoft to endorse their product - magically came up with a video which showcases, however ineffectually, a Microsoft product. Perhaps - let's be generous - Common decided on a video featuring a Fantastic Voyage into an MP3 player, and the Zune just happened to fit the vision.

On the other hand, did Microsoft ask him to make a video featuring a Zune somehow in return for their marketing cash. Which, of course, is not illegal but feels a whole less moral. If Common is selling his 'cool' and, by implication, his audience, then at the very least the deal should be made explicit.

In other words: Is Yahoo writing this puff piece because Common thinks the Zune is so cool, he built a video around it? Or is Yahoo writing the puff because Microsoft thinks Common is cool they gave him money?


4 comments:

James said...

"A video for the title track on hip-hop veteran Common's forthcoming album"

Hip-hop veteran? Bloody hell, that makes me feel old. Who's getting the Lifetime Acheivement Brit next year? Is it Glasvegas?

Olive said...

Is this any different to the product placement that clogs every film squeezed out of Hollywood?
Besides, companies have been paying artists to namecheck their products for years:-

http://blog.wired.com/music/2008/09/products-placed.html

Andrew said...

Sony have been doing this sort of thing for years. Anyone remember their Finnish 1980s-retro-breakdance-hip-hop combo The Freestylers (or Freestylaz perhaps) and their video in which they control reality using an ATRAC player?

Adam K said...

or, ahem, every video in the last two years that features an iPod...

If you recognize the PMP as a Zune, you feel like an insider because it's not in your face, and you were able to see that fact on your own.

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