Re: The Big Chill’s deal with VH1
It’s an interesting business strategy problem in many ways. It’s a
little like the Chasm theory in marketing, where (to reverse the usual
train of thought of this theory) offerings fail to survive because in
trying to make it across to a wider audience they alienate their
initial, and most substantive audience, and their market collapses. Part
of this problem is choosing which business partners to go with in order
to monetize the intellectual and cultural capital you’ve accumulated.
You really can blow it in business terms by trying to squeeze too much
money out of your offering and alienating your audience as a result.
More pointedly, no matter how underground you;re trying to be (or really
are), the wrong business partner can just destroy your brand value, and
this can happen very quickly.
Demonstrably, the Big Chill hasn’t suffered from this, at least not yet,
despite the extreme precariousness of their position: the very fact
that their audience is to a great degree un-served by mainstream
offerings, yet largely white, middle class and monied, makes them
intensely valuable to marketeers. In fact, a lot of people can (and do)
assume that the Big Chill has sold out simply because it has always
served a valuable demographic niche. (Without getting too deeply into
the cultural politics of the big chill, I think this is broadly an
unfair accusation, BTW.)
What is interesting about the deal with VH1 — a brand that to be frank
fills me with the creeping horrors and which I find deeply alienating
and very far from what I want BC to be — is that it’s not a sponsorship
deal. It’s a quid pro quo. VH1 gets access to the Big Chill’s audience
and a small amount of branding and communications — but it doesn’t just
buy the Big Chill’s arse / cultural capital off the shelf. Instead, the
Big Chill get some of VH1’s business and infrastructural capital — they
get a slot in VH1’s schedules. This gives BC something they couldn’t
achieve on their own, significantly extending BC’s capability, while VH1
effectively take all the business risk.
It’s a nice move.
But the minute BC starts playing three hour late-eighties Eric Clapton
acoustic sets to “mellow people out”, that’s it, I’m turning up with the
Ambush raggacore sound system with some Bug dubplates.