ringo’s big idea

Social networking sites like Facebook make it easy to know (whether you want to or not, which is another post entirely) what kind of music your friends are listening to. In some circles, Facebook has been used in a sort of arms race between people to show off just how forward-thinking and underground they are in the music scene.

Why? Because music, specifically an individual’s taste in it, is a social self-selector. The indie hipsters have their milieu as do the classic rock junkies and hip-hop mavens and all the rest because your musical taste, in many ways, says something about you and, at the most basic level of simple human nature, people of a certain group feel pressure to conform to the group’s taste…be it clothing or music or whatever.

That happens no matter what age you are, as evidences by all of the very hip 20-somethings in my office walking around in $400 jeans and all listening to the same bands on their iTunes.

Those choices, music included, say something about you. They place you into a social category. In many cases a self-selected social category…like the friend of mine who purposely dresses sloppily at work to look “creative” while really being a dandy who looks like Daniel Craig in James Bond on the weekend.

So what better way to enhance the social category-making power of music than to couple it with fashion? Ringo Starr, of all people, has brought the idea to reality by releasing his new album, Liverpool 8, on a USB wristband:

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Music as fashion make a lot of sense, though I would have guessed that it would make the most sense with the younger demographic that Ringo, for all his charms, does not attract.

All this will take is a rap star like Jay-Z at some awards show with a wristband of his favorite album to make this become the next big fashion icon. The album wristband says just as much about you as those livestrong wristbands did, but it also has some value in the music on it and, depending on the technology, the ability to share songs and other files. Britney, had she not gone completely off the deep end, would have been well poised, with her demo, to capitalize on something like this.

Ringo, however, just may not attract the right kind of consumer to make this a real success.

It is a good idea though.

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3 responses to “ringo’s big idea

  1. the plastic bracelet doesn’t come close to “fashion” Maybe social statement, but the plastic writstband is this week’s Furby. That being said, Matchbox Twenty released their last album on USB bracelet and it was overpriced – I remember something like $35. At least Ringo’s is $18 on Amazon and $25 in store. I guess when you look at his target audience, a $25 USB bracelet makes perfect sense – they’ve got the cash and don’t care the USB bracelet isn’t new. They’ll probably show it off to their kids as proof of how hip they are. His website also says “Album Launch Includes ….blah blah… and Major Promotions with AARP” He’s certainly playing to his base.

  2. Fashion may be a strong word for what the plastic bracelet is…it certainly is a wearable statement of allegiance that also has a functional benefit.

    And yes, Ringo is certainly playing to his base with an AARP tie-in.

  3. It may be too blatant a way of saying “I like this band” for it to gain any traction with the people you’re talking about, who prefer to play their iPods really loudly so you can hear the bootleg Death Cab coming out the earbuds and other more subtle methods.

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