Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Come to the party - if you buy our single

One Night Only are heading off to do a gig at their old school, Ryedale in Nawton, Yorkshire. The headteacher has sent a letter to parents explaining just how exciting this will be:

Dear Parents/Carers
One Night Only - Friday 8th February

We have a unique opportunity to enable Ryedale School students to see a top band in the making without having to pay extortionate prices or travel long distances to inhospitable environments. I can negotiate this, but will need the help of parents and carers.

“One Night Only” is a band of former Ryedale School students who have a record contract and, according to those in the know, are destined for the big time. Their debut single was around the Top 40 for several weeks. The expectation is that their new single will be even more successful, and I should like our current students to gain something from this wonderful rise to fame.

Brilliant. What a lovely gesture - old boys coming back to do something for their old school. Even a cynical old soul like ourselves sheds a warm, salty tear at... hang on a moment, though - what's this?
Ryedale School is still held in high esteem by the band, and their manager is grateful for the opportunity we
gave them to shoot some television footage here for the boys’ appearance on a Music programme. They are keen to visit us, but are constrained by record company demands to promote their new single.

Isn't going to your old school and playing some songs "promoting the single", though? It'll be on Look North and everything.

Ah, but it turns out the record company - Vertigo, which is Universal - has something a little more direct in mind:
The solution is simple: the band performs a concert at Ryedale School, and rather than charging the students an entrance fee, we ask them to buy the new single instead. Everyone wins!

Well, we can see how Vivendi-Universal does. We can even imagine that One Night Only might, eventually see some money out of it. But how does forcing a child to buy a record in order to take part in a school event constitute a win for either the child or the school?

Let's not be confused here, either: this is talking about using a school event to try and boost a band's chart position:
I have explored all sorts of options about buying the single to sell to the students (or even vouchers to order them). Whatever I think of to make the purchases manageable is thwarted by the regulations which state that a maximum of ten sales will be counted towards the charts from any one purchaser. In fairness to the band we have to find a better arrangement. This is where we need the help of the parents and carers.

This is the head teacher of a school, bending over backwards to hype a record up the charts by refusing to allow their pupils to attend a school event unless they buy a record.
If the single is pre-ordered on line before it is released on 28th January the impact is greatest. I realise that not everyone will be happy with this arrangement, but for those who are we have found out the following.

A really good value for money pack, worth ten pounds but available for just £3 (only one purchase per household) can be pre-ordered from by following this link which has also been added to the School website. [URL snipped]*

This brings you directly to the page with the One Night Only multipack containing the following products:
Just For Tonight - CD Single - normal price £4.99
Just For Tonight (Gatefold Sleeve) - 7 inch single - normal price £2.99
Just For Tonight (Picture Disc) - 7 inch single - normal price £1.99

The "worth ten pounds" is, of course, entirely arguable.
This represents tremendous value for money for the students, giving them a rare opportunity to see a top band perform live and leaves them with a memento of the day. It will also give the band a flying start.

A flying start indeed.

But the head knows some people might not be happy with this way of doing things. After all, not everyone likes to buy records on the internet:
This represents tremendous value for money for the students, giving them a rare opportunity to see a top band perform live and leaves them with a memento of the day. It will also give the band a flying start.

Because I know some of you will be unhappy about ordering on line, buying the single following its release on 28th January from stores such as HMV is an acceptable alternative.

Good lord - don't you wish that your band had a street team like this?
For the students to gain admission to the concert, they will need to have handed in the slip signed by a parent/carer indicating that the single has been pre-ordered, or has been bought or will be bought in the near future. It is a less straightforward arrangement that I aimed for, but it offers the benefits I wanted.

The slip below should be returned to the school office by Monday 4th February. One purchase per household is sufficient to admit all the children from that household, but they will each need to return a signed slip.
The Hall cannot accommodate all the students so the ones who return the slips on time will be given priority.
There will be no further cost for admission.

Aha - once you've forked out for the record, you won't be shaken down again.

Hang about, though, where's the angle for the school? Won't the school get its beak wet, too?
In order that the students feel comfortable at the concert, we can have our usual half-term’s non-uniform
day on the day of the concert for the usual £1 fee.

There are three problems with this - first, a school should not be pimping on behalf of a multinantional company, with the head seeking the ways to best maximise a chart position.

Secondly, since students will want to go to the gig even if they're not that keen on the band (to be with their mates, to not be left out, to not look odd), this looks like exploiting that to sell records.

Thirdly, and most importantly, it's a clear breach of chart rules:
No record company, distributor, retailer, Artist or other party should act or encourage others to act in any way designed to distort, or which has the effect of distorting the Chart by achieving a higher or lower Chart position for a record than it would otherwise achieve.

Actions which will be considered a breach of these rules include:
procuring the sale of a record in conjunction with a non-related or excessive gift, ie which gives the consumer a product, voucher or benefit or anything else which is either unrelated to the record concerned or of a value in excess of the value of the record without that gift (value means normal retail price

It looks like the head's efforts might have been in vain.

[Thanks to Jim W for the tip]


Anonymous said...

you should have seen the organisational work our school did back when Juvenile Jazz were up for Saturday Superstore's search for a star thingummyjig.

I wouldn't like to say rigged, but....

Simon Hayes Budgen said...

Juvenile Jazz? That sounds like a magazine from the old Richard Desmond empire...

jrjbcn said...

To me the worst thing is that the hall can't accommodate all the children, so in theory there could be hundreds of record sales to kids who are unable to see the show.

It wasn't like that in my day, when east 17 came to sing in assembly...they just didn't let the over 14s in (which was fine anyway, as most of them were outside vandalising their minibus).

Anonymous said...

But the parents can just sign the form without buying can't they?

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