Sep 23, 2009 at 01:00 PM
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How the New Music Model Mixes Up Fans

After ending an 18 year relationship with Sony, there was much speculation in early 2009 about how Pearl Jam would distribute their next album.

This new Target advertisement has thrown some PJ fans into bouts of hysteria.

Pearl Jam has traditionally been about has anti-corporate as you can get. Here's a smattering of some of the responses to the deal from

"I don't understand the need for sponsorship from target commercial on TV? WTF!. They always were against this sort of thing. All this does is cheapen the music and make it a joke."

"Pearl Jam are corporate whores. You are right."

"After years of hearing the band talk about how they didn't really give a shit about record sales and money and that sort of thing, this year has been a little disconcerting. That being said, I know it's their right to whatever they damn well please, and I hold no grudge against them. That doesn't mean seeing Pearl Jam very much in the mainstream isn't a little weird, though."

"My assumption is that when an artist creates something, they want as many people as possible to enjoy and appreciate it. In 1991 to get the most people to hear their music Pearl Jam signed with Sony Records, in 2009 PJ signed with Target. It is the same but different."

When they were on the label, it was Sony and Epic's employee's who would make all the distribution deals and arrangements. Pearl Jam never seemed a part of it, because they didn't have to make the deals themselves, but you better believe the deals were made.. The only difference I can see is that we are all more aware of these deals since Pearl Jam is directly responsible for making them, rather than having a label be the buffer...I don't even think its exactly changing ideals...they are just having to take care of the "dirty work" directly...

Yesterday, we talked about a rapper formerly named Killer Mike, who for commercial reasons, is changing his name to Mike Bigga.

"You can't get corporate sponsorship with that," Mike said.

Does the new model of distribution mean more artists are "selling out" for sponsorship or with more and more artists being closer to the deal, is it simply a change in fan perception? Or perhaps big box retailers, after years of loss-leading music, are the perception problem in the equation.

In any case, Target's campaign to me like a very traditional model armed with a much better marketing plan.

Welcome to 2009!