By Joseph Tsidulko
By Patrick Range McDonald
By David Futch
By Hillel Aron
By Dennis Romero
By Jill Stewart
By Dennis Romero
By Dennis Romero
"VIVENDI MAKES TOILETS," JIGA HISSES OF Jean-Marie Messier's media conglomerate. "Did you know this?" More accurately, Vivendi has supplied water to much of France since the middle √Ę of the 19th century; only in the last five years has its 44-year-old CEO turned the focus to media. "What do they understand about music? Why would they be accountable to us?"
By their own reckoning, Jiga + Jinno have promoted their music and their MP3.com Web site aggressively. They bought paid ads on Google, they included the site in their 16,000-subscriber e-mail newsletter, they mentioned the site onstage every chance they had. But promotion is not prohibited by MP3.com, and they adamantly insist that they followed the terms of their agreement with MP3.com to the letter. They had simply mastered the art of Internet marketing, which is not suprising after five years of practice.
"We started out on the Internet by giving people free music," says Jiga, "and we just did it because we wanted to be heard." In 1996, the pair put up their first Web site, loaded with MP3 tracks. "Then we went on to a channel on the IRC [Internet Relay Chat] and told people, 'Go listen to our track -- it's in MP3.' And people would write back, 'What? What's an MP3?'
"Now if you did that, it would be considered spam. But back then, it was a way to get rolling. And we thought, all right, we won't make any money out of it, but at least somebodywould hear these new tracks we were making, and be happy about it. And it started such a craze -- people started e-mailing us and saying, 'Take my e-mail address and let me know what you're doing.'"
By the end of their first run on IRC, Jiga + Jinno had 8,000 e-mail addresses in their database. Soon after, offers to appear live started streaming in. "We started to get gigs all over the world, and that was because of this one release. Our first serious show was in Holland, and it happened when this man wrote to us and said, 'YOU'RE ANALOG PUSSY! I WANT TO BOOK YOU!"
Performing is Analog Pussy's livelihood. "Two years ago, when we started our tour of Europe," Jiga recalls, "nobody knew about Analog Pussy, except in Israel, and the promoters took a big bet on us. And we came out -- I played cello, and Jinno played synthesizer -- and we slammed." Five hundred people showed up for that first show in Holland. Later that year, 2,000 turned out for Analog Pussy in Ibiza; 3,000 on a mountain in Germany; 5,000 nine months ago in England. They have played Hungary, Brazil, Switzerland; a U.S. tour begins this July, in Atlanta.
All the pictures from those live shows go up on Analog Pussy's own Web site, www.analog-pussy.com, "and we also find out what are the main regional Web sites that are connected to raves. We make sure they announce the show, and go to the Web site to see what people are saying, and drop a word to the forum. Two months ago we were in Canada, and again we made sure all the Canadian forums would be aware of the show, and we dropped some lines there. We had like 284 messages, and 3,000 people turned out for the show."
Jiga + Jinno have been making music together for seven years, and they'd already released two discs on big labels when their Internet careers began. "We released one album in Israel and another in Germany," says Jiga. "But we saw how the vicious cycle worked: A label spends a lot of money on selling an artist, then the sales aren't what the label expects, and they say to the band, 'Oh, you suck! It's not our fault; give us the advance back!'" Hadshot makes some money on Analog Pussy's CD sales, but Jiga + Jinno see little of that money. "We are overbooked for gigs every time, and that is the real money," says Jiga. "And a big video game company has asked to use eight of our songs. We found that when we put music out for free, we get money back in other ways, big time."
But for a signed artist with other sources of income, the real advantage of the Internet has not been money, but freedom. "First of all, it costs us nothing, really, except for the Internet connection," Jiga told me last March, while Analog Pussy was still being promoted heavily as a top artist on MP3.com. "I don't have to make a big campaign, and I can control everything. This is the coolest thing -- I can do everything I want, release everything I want, decide on the art, decide what CD I want to sell. Second, I make a separation between the real world and the virtual world. In the real world, the label gets a say in everything. In the virtual world, I am queen. No label will tell me anything. The Internet gives me the freedom to invent myself. Power to the artist! I can now make tracks in artistic freedom."