Friday, May 3, 2013

Why the Upcoming Monkee Tour Needs an On-Staff Ethnographer

So here's the pitch/list of reasons:

1. The current narrative is flawed.

Or rather, it is being led by people of the First Generation.  The reporters who lead with the "Pre-Fab" or the "But they never actually played their own instruments . . ."  Everytime Peter and Micky go out on a tour, these are the questions that come up on interviews (Mike has yet to establish a longer track record with the press).

2. "It cannot be a part of me/for now it's part of you"

A large part of the phenomenon, and one of the greatest and the fastest growing is the Fan Community.  And by fans, I mean First, Second and Third Generations, both men and women AND inclusive of their friends.  The live performances have become "Events", and there is a rapidly growing segment (as seen on Facebook and over the Yahoo Email list specifically) who makes plans to reunite with other fans.  There is little to no attempt to engage, track or measure this phenomenon, outside of well-established marketing tricks or monetary gain.  The Fans have always had a fierce loyalty, and now there is history and social ties made stronger through the ease of electronic communication.  Due to the barriers of fame and the paywall of access to materials, there has previously been a clear separation between the Band and the Fans.  Sharing has become easier with social media and the heavy lifting of growing and sustaining new audiences will lie with the Fanbase.  Not with additional or traditional marketing.

3. The TV Show, Music and Movie hold up after all these years.

But they still have to fight the credibility gap.    At worst, it's a kiddie show, bubblegum pop and a drug-fueled mess.  But each were better than they had to be and transcended the genre.  Yet compared to the Beatles or Rolling Stones, there have been very few books or publications to address or describe  the body of work.  In order to encourage engagement, a multitude of voices should be encouraged among the Fan community.  Eloquent and devoted fans should be held up as positive examples of how to engage with the brand on an official and productive level.  Monkees.net has been doing a version of this for years, and has established its own niche as a labor of love.  In order to keep the narrative alive on an official scale, a proper study of the oeuvre should be commissioned.  (This blog is the beginning of that, but is also growing to encompass other relevant issues as well)

4. The 50th Anniversary is coming up in 2016.

As much as Davy Jones' death and Mike Nesmith touring with the group has been a way to re-spark an interest for live concerts, the 50th Anniversary Tour/Year will be a way to establish a source of strength for the brand, as well as for the fans. The previous 50 years includes not only the public timeline of the band, but also connects the fans' personal history to something larger than themselves. Not only is this landmark an opportunity to unite and solidify the fan communities, but also a way to ensure that the brand will continue on into the next 50 years.

5. The NEXT 50 years?

Yes.  The essential oeuvre was self-contained in tv/music and the film, "Head".  As long as there are people willing to watch and engage, there will be a renewable audience for the Brand.  Or to come at it from a more genuine place, this is an experience that gets handed down from generation to generation.  Unlike tales of Woodstock, with a "You had to be there" vibe, the new audiences can access exactly the same experience as the First Generation.  Long after the "rights to the brand" have passed out of copyright, there will still be people sharing the narrative.

6. The 2013 Tour should be documented.  Not only from the POV of what is happening onstage, but also what is happening backstage and in the audience.

The past few tours have been well-documented and exist in bits and pieces online.  Backstage gossip and misunderstandings have mellowed.  Audiences would still be fascinated to be a fly on the wall of conversations happening during rehearsals and on the road.  But an attempt should also be made to record the audience.  To get into the minds and stories of people who travel city-to-city or who fly great distances to see live performances.  

7. Fans do not need YET ANOTHER concert DVD/recording/etc.

The ultimate product of this study could be an entirely new way to offer additional content.  A way to present a Fly on the Wall perspective, much like the photographic work of Henry Diltz, but expanded into the dimension of observations and commentary.  It should be accompanied in real time by full social media engagement (Facebook, Twitter and Blog) and can be collected as a book and/or to add value to the release of the eventual DVD.

That's the basic idea, anyway.  Contact me directly for more ideas or to argue: tamava rose at gmail.

Enjoy the tour!!

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