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So, Sony’s Hiring Fake Commenters to Promote Albums NowPosted by Nathan S. on 08/06/12 | Filed under Opinion, Pay for Post
So I'm really not surprised to learn that Sony/Columbia has started to pay people to comment on sites and message boards. It's actually shocking it's taken a major label this long to figure out that a single positive comment from a "real" person can have as big of an impact as a million dollar ad campaign. As a general rule people don't trust ads, but they do trust other people. Or, at least they trust other people who aren't functioning as breathing human ads.
Prefix has an awesome break down of the whole scheme, but the long story short is that Sony hired a small army of folks to flood Facebook and sites with comments promoting the new indie rock album "Gossamer" from Passion Pit.
It's crucial to note that these aren't bots, these are actual people with real Facebook accounts. They're simply being paid by Sony for their comments, and it's apparently impossible to fake enthusiasm without sounding like some happy robot.
In fact, it quickly became evident to site regulars that something was up. The way everyone sounded like a Passion Pit loving Stepford Wife? The same NPR link being promoted again and again? Sony's master plan was quickly discovered and every positive Passion Pit comment promptly ignored.
Only a major label could spend a bunch of money on an ad campaign designed to not seem like an ad campaign, and still have the whole thing ignored because people discover it's a major label ad campaign. But yeah, the major labels are going bankrupt because of MegaUpload. Anyway....
While the Passion Pit campaign was the first time Sony tried something like this (that we know about), it won't be the last, and it won't be contained to indie rock. Fake comments are too cheap and too potentially effective for other major labels to ignore, which means that in a few months you shouldn't be surprised to see a lot of "This new Rita Ora album is a classic!" comments popping up on the blogs in a few months courtesy of Roc Nation.
(If the day ever comes when you spot a paid commenter on RefinedHype, tear them apart like a cow that wandered into the velociraptor cage.)
As crazy as it may seem, this blurred space between the "real" and the "fake" is a hallmark of the internet (just ask Krispy Kreme). On one level it's depressing, and a little 1984ish, to think that we're all being constantly manipulated into liking music by giant corporations, but I think we can learn the opposite lesson from Sony's scheme. As hard as you try, you just can't fool people in the internet age; or at least you can't fool them for long.
Despite the ads, "viral" videos, fake comments and social media campaigns, now more than ever it really does come down to the music. The music's either dope or it's not, and if it's not, you'll fail eventually. Which is why I'm so stoked for the release of 2 Chainz' "Based on a T.R.U. Story" album, which is sure to be an instant classic and you should all buy legally on iTunes several times.
Now if you'll excuse me, I've got to go cash this check from Def Jam.
See Also: So We’re Doing “Pay for Tweet” F**kery Now? Awesome