The only difference this time is it was spurned on by a rock star who got his panties in a twist over a few people's popular opinion.
To give you the cliff notes of the custom song promotion, it's basically this: The band Say Anything will write a song about the purchaser, for the hefty sum of $150.00 (USD) The song is for personal enjoyment, which is understandable, except when reading further you discover that the band maintains the rights to the song allowing them to release the song for commercial use at a later date. Basically, the purchaser is doing the job of the band, while paying a nominal fee, with the band retaining the option to release the song to make money off of at a later date.
Imagine if you will, you're coming home from the Airport. You might be a little jet lagged, and maybe you got in on a red-eye flight. Instead of bothering one of your friends to pick you up at 2am, you decide to drop the money on a taxi cab home.
So the taxi is waiting for, and the guy, lets call him Little Jeffy. Little Jeffy (he might be short. Have you seen Taxi drivers at night? Not exactly Brad Pitts, or Yao Mings.) Little Jeffy helps you with your bags into the trunk, and begins the long trek home. About fifteen minutes later, Little Jeffy pulls into a gas station, and keeps the meter running.
He gets out, and goes to reach for his AmEx, but realizes he left his wallet in his locker at the station.
"Hey, buddy...bad news. I don't have enough gas to get you home" Little Jeffy informs you, "Would you happen to have some money I can use to fuel up?" Well, Hell, it's been a long trip. You just wanna get home. You get out of the car, swipe your Visa. After swiping the card, you realize Little Jeffy went inside to take a deuce, and get some twizzlers and a Rockstar.
"Fuck." you think, and just pump the gas yourself. Gas is $3.80 a gallon, and sixty dollars and 24 gallons later, the tank is filled. You get back in the car, and rest your eyes, until you notice that the meter is still running.
A few minutes later, Little Jeffy returns, and says "Hey bro, um, I wouldn't feel right about this if I get pulled over with you in the car. It might make this whole venture that much longer. Would you mind driving the rest of the way home? "Why not?" you say, and get in the drivers seat. The rest of the ride home, you and Little Jeffy talk about your families, and maybe even the Cubs. Maybe this year is their year, right? He shares some twizzlers, and you start to think Little Jeffy isn't so bad. Maybe even might want to invite him out for a beer sometime, you know?
Finally, after a forty minute drive your home. Little Jeffy helps you get your bags out of the trunk, and says it was nice to meet you. He deducts twenty bucks from the meter, and your total comes too (including the sixty dollars for gas) 150.00 dollars.
You get inside, and realize that you just paid Little Jeffy to do his job for him, and gave him the ability to use that gas you bought him to make more money that night.
It's understandable you might want to chase after Little Jeffy, but he's peeled off into the night, and all thats left are skid marks in the drive way, and the faint sound of him cackling into the distance.
Max Bemis is Little Jeffy.
So when PunkNews broke the story of Say Anythings' Custom Song Promotion, many of the users too um bridge with the 150.00 price tag, with many people feeling that the customers would be 'doing the bands job'.
Below are some particularly interesting (unedited) comments made:
"capitalism at its finest. ugh." by user listofdemands.
"How about you just mail me the $150, I'll shit in a coffee-can and mail it back to you priority. You'll get as much joy out of it, I promise." by user baldsteve.
"Sell Anything." by user AndyP.
"Why should fans assume they'll get anything worth listening too for $150?
I'm sure their record advance was more than $150 a song and that just managed to create a double album of shit. For $150 I would imagine you'd get little more than Max banging on a table top and reading the description you wrote." by user Dante3000.
While opinions are as rampant as assholes on parade on the internet, what happened next was some what unbelievable in my opinion.
Max Bemis became enraged. Enough so to construct a poorly written 'fuck-off' message aimed solely at the PunkNews community, with "rival" site, AbsolutePunk.
"...another thing that actually OFFENDS me, which is hard to to these days, are the people who are pissed that musicians make money. the strange, slow, old people on punknews.org and the few annoying stragglers on this website. people who care about us understand this obvious fact: touring all year and being away from our loved ones, sweating our hearts out onstage and living a weird freaking life may not mean we all have to be millionaires, but it's a job that deserves SOME financial compensation, like any other..."
Throughout his tampon-tirade, he vehemently claims that he could be in a boy band, to take the easy way out and start a boy band. He even goes as far as to suggest the users of an INTERNET message board meet a horrid end.
If you're an artist, you cannot look at negative connotations made towards your output. There will always, always be someone there to take shots at you. At what point, Bemis, do you actually not only gain confidence with yourself, but actually grow the fuck up enough not to let a few words get you all pissy? You're a rock star, touring the world and making enough to survive on. Thats almost completely unheard of in a time when most independent bands can't even fucking afford to go out on tour, because the gas prices are so obscene. Do hear them bitching and moaning about, "oh so-and-so said we suck turds on the internet"? No, you see them doing as much as they can, giving as much as they can to people, in hopes of reaching a broader audience, and maybe even getting to the level that Say Anything has reached.
For God's sake, I'd love to one day get to the point where people are trashing me on the internet, because that at least means I'm doing something right along the way.
The thing is, while I might be a user of PunkNews, I also do realize at times a lot of the comments made are quite unnecessary, but thats just the nature of things. And don't get me wrong, I actually liked Say Anythings' previous effort, "...Is a Real Boy."
But when you can willingly justify charging your own fans, who've bought your records, merch, went to your shows and sang along to your lyrics, when you can justify in your own mind charging them 150.00 for a singular song thats about them, it reeks of several things. It reeks of desperation, it's reeks of pandering to the narcissistic side of young suburban kids who have maybe only a passing interest in music.
It feels completely disingenuous as well, when you can angle your "artistic vision" and force it to produce nothing short of a product. Music is completely different than other forms of art, in that it's supposed to come from the heart and soul. It's supposed to be fueled by passion, and desire. A esoteric induction of your inner-most feelings, laid bare in front of whomever may, or may not listen.
To put it in perspective, 150.00 can buy a 4gb iPod nano that can hold 1,000 songs.
The other problem I feel is evident with Bemis' complaint towards a message board, is that he comes off extremely pretentious, and arrogant. I do feel he has the right to defend his actions, but it's the way he went about the entire thing.
At what point do you grow a fucking pair, and take the high road? At what point do you just shrug it off, laugh about it, and keep doing what you feel is best for you?
"In Defense of the Genre" (Say Anythings' most recent effort) seemed lacking whole-heartedly. It felt plagued by a lack of ideas, and went on completely too long. While there were some decent efforts, the entire album seemed to reflect a drained mood from Bemis. After his recent controversial jabs, it only paints the picture with more texture that this is a man, and a band that have no idea what they are doing anymore.
Maybe they got too much too quickly. It's been heavily documented that Max has had his bouts with mental illness, and I think it's just taken an irreparable toll on his bands' future.
You can't force something that has to come naturally. You just fucking can't. When you attempt to do, you become the veritable whore and loose all credibility. And Bemix, to be perfectly fucking honest with you, the kids are always gonna be able to sniff of something phony and fake.
Maybe it's time to hit the showers, buddy.