Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Total Ellipse Of The Heart

Imogen Heap’s new album ‘Ellipse’ was released on August 24th, a pivotal date in music history - not so much for the music itself (needy, introspective, alt-pop) - but for the way in which the record has been marketed. It is not an understatement to say that every note, nuance and rhyming couplet created by Heap has been painstakingly documented online for the last four and a half years.

Imogen currently has 932,252 followers on Twitter, making her one of the social network’s superpowers. The making of ‘Ellipse’ has been a regular vLog on YouTube. Her fans created the album’s artwork by submission to a Flickr group. Famously, Heap crushed the sale of a leaked album master on eBay by having her fans bombard the site with ‘take down’ messages.

On its release, the record has been a huge hit, but at what cost? Imogen freely admits that she spends “5% of her time creating music and 95% of the time marketing it”. Unquestionably she is at the top of her digital game – capturing the hearts and minds of her fans. But do we really want artists to be slaves to their laptops – or do we want them to be free to express themselves in purely musical terms?

As record sales continue to decline this method of selling music is certainly the shape of things to come. I can’t help feeling that it’s an awful lot of effort for little reward.

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