Monday, 14 December 2015

Empty Advertising

The following is genuine promotional copy for a product made by the company Music Computing, an American maker of musical computer instruments based in Austin, Texas. It can be found on their website right now.

The Game is Over. In the past the music industry was a game and products like the StudioBLADE were game changers, but nowadays things have gotten to be serious. If you are a professional music producer, you’ve got every 12 year old kid coming at you armed with a cheap laptop trying to take you down. Your skills and experiences can only defend against that for so long. Super-instruments like the StudioBLADE will give you that extra edge when it really matters. When others can’t run big plugins because their computers aren’t powerful enough or having to continuously bounce tracks down from MIDI to audio so their computers don’t lock up, you can continue to work the way you want, without restraints to dominate. Competition is fierce, why would you go into battle with a handicap? The new StudioBLADE 5, the ultimate weapon for the Music Industry.

What strikes me at first is how ridiculously over the top this is. I wonder who wrote this and who they think they are aiming their product at? The "Studioblade" is essentially a Frankenstein instrument that is a computer, sound card, midi controller, touchscreen and conventional musical keyboard all housed in their own custom housing to look like a keyboard. It also comes with some preloaded software and is meant to be an all-in-one music-making solution.

I notice, at first, how capitalist and military the language is here. Music is an "industry". Others are trying to "take you down". (Yes, even 12 year olds with a laptop!) Music is a matter of competition. You must "defend" yourself. So, of course, what you really need to do is buy something! This is because you are going "into battle" so you obviously need bigger and better weaponry. The Studioblade is "the ultimate weapon". Is it just me that doesn't know whether to laugh at the mindless stupidity of this language or weep at the thorough-going nihilism of it?

What picture of music and music-making is given here? If you make music yourself is it one you recognize? This is a company selling things and presumably they want to sell as many as possible. But to who? Who is attracted to something when language like this is used? I can only imagine it is people who put their Studioblade next to their gun cabinet who are seeking to kill every other musician! But the language of capitalism is equally as prevalent. I had never been aware until reading this advertising that music was a matter of "competition" at all. Much less did I realize that I needed "the ultimate weapon" to win such a competition. Presumably, since even 12 year olds are coming to "take me down," the idea is that I take them down too? To do this I utilize weapons to... to what? To incapacitate them? How does one do that with music exactly? Where does the metaphor lead? Why does having any instrument or device at all lead to me having a "weapon" that could achieve such a thing?

This advertising is stupid and I find it hard to imagine advertising that could be worse. Maybe it is playing to some culture that I am not aware of. The company are based in Texas, after all. But from my British and European context this just seems mind-numblingly banal. If I were aiming to write a parody of all the things I think about music and instruments and what I think they are about I would write something like this. As a musician who has considered instruments like the Studioblade before I find this advertisement actually insults me and my intelligence.  I find out now that music is all about size and power and weaponry. But it isn't. Its about limitations and inspiration and ingenuity. You don't need "the ultimate weapon". You never did. And those 12 year olds? Don't worry about them. Or anyone else. Music is not a competition. Even if it was, the equipment you had wouldn't gain you any advantage. Your originality would. So don't listen to Music Computing and their poverty of thinking. You may or may not need their Studioblade. You certainly don't need their mindset. You're hopefully much, much better than that.

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