Dear Nico: Let’s Give Peace a Chance.
A couple of years ago, I touched off a full-blown shitstorm in these pages by asking what I thought was a fairly innocent question, which was: Is Nico overrated? I had not listened to much of his music at the time and the little I had heard was pleasant enough but not, to my taste, particularly interesting or distinctive. It was competent, but not something I would bother to listen to again. I was aware, however, that young Nico was much beloved in some quarters of our small and incestuous little new music demimonde and not so much in others. It seemed to that this would be a fun topic to get people who (unlike me) actually know what they’re talking about to explain the Nico phenomenon. I mean, most young composers can’t get arrested and we’re talking Vegas level fame here–Frank. Sammy. Wayne. Nico. How did he do it?
I was prepared for some people to say he gets a lot of attention because he a fantastic composer who is really good and here’s why. I was prepared for others to say it’s just one of those who-knows-who things that you get in a nasty competitive little world. Man, was I naive. Almost immediately, I was set upon by a screeching horde of Nico acolytes accusing me–moi!–of being a heretic, a non-believer, the Charlie Manson of new music. The mere fact that I had dared to raise the question at all meant that I was a doubter and troublemaker and probably a serial abuser of kittens. It was like the time Sinead O’Connor tore up a picture of the Pope on national television.
I was so shaken by the experience that ever since I have not been able to spell Nico’s last name right which is why I keeping calling him Nico. I’ve never personally laid eyes on the lad. I have waded through his first three big-label CD releases and still have no better explanation for his success than I started with, but, hey, different strokes and all that. Arvo Part, Eric Whitacre, Morton Lauridsen, he is not, IMHO. That’s only my opinion. It is not the opinion of Sequenza21. I’m sure some of the writers who contribute here love his stuff.
Ok, so now Nico has written a post accusing Sequenza21 of spamming him by promoting his latest CD which, of course, falls into the no good deed goes unpunished category. If I had a new CD, I would be happy if somebody regularly told 30,000 people about it. But, I have to admit that it wasn’t really a good deed. As some of you who pay attention know, I am a marketer by trade and I have a number of Twitter accounts that I use for what is delicately called “demand generation.” I don’t use them to sell products and they don’t go to anybody who doesn’t “follow” the particular account; they are usually pointers to articles on web sites I manage. When a record company, buys a display ad on Sequenza21 to promote a “hot” young composer, one of the little pieces of lagniappe that I sometimes throw in is a few weeks of scheduled Tweets. (Let me also add that I do the same for free for any composer who has a concert coming up and asks me nicely.) As a direct result of the Tweets from my business accounts–not Sequenza21– that Nico identifies as spam, nearly 30,000 people went to his profile and the link to his music on NPR.
But, since Nico’s sensibilities were offended, I’ll promise to never do that again.