A Eurovision friend recently posted on his Facebook an odd bit about how someone on EBay bought the Slovenian promo CD of STRAIGHT INTO LOVE by Hannah Mancini for 405 Euro. I was troubled by the fact that someone would even sell a promo CD that they received for free from the Slovenian delegation this year. But then again, given how much this seller earned, I can understand why.
The promo CDs were perhaps the biggest conundrum for me as a first-time member of the accredited press at Eurovision. For me, I always thought of promo CDs as something that the record labels sent out to radio stations to help their artists get radio airplay and consequently, sales. Nevertheless, I got sucked in early to trying to get promo CDs too. There was a nice feeling when I was able to get something from the artists. However, by the end of things, I stopped trying as hard to grab promo CDs in the free-for-alls. It was just too much work at times.
In Malmo, the promo CDs came in all shapes in sizes. Georgia’s promo CD was beautifully crafted. Norway opted for a nice-looking DVD. Slovenia and Italy had very low numbers and were considered rare. And then there were promo CDs from countries such as Albania, which got the job done, but were very basic. Some countries, such as Lithuania, decided to not even bother this year. I honestly don’t blame them. In this editorial, I provide my thoughts about the good, the bad, and the ugly that I saw this year in Malmo regarding these cherished promo CDs.
CHAOTIC is the best way to describe the hunt for the promo CDs by accredited press and fans. When a delegation came into the press center (or EuroClub in the first week), its members were mobbed with questions about promo CDs. For some, it’s the only communication they get with press members. So I was quite surprised when I would have delegation members tell Matt and I that it was nice for them to just talk with press about things other than whether or not they had promo CDs. I know firsthand that the press work their butts off at Eurovision. But for the delegations, it is not all fun and games either!
As soon as everyone in the press center caught wind of promotional materials, the mob commenced. I saw delegation members stressed out over the onslaught of hands coming for them just to get one of their CDs. The poor woman from Georgia worked her butt off at Euroclub putting out CDs on the table. But as soon as she laid them out, they were gone, at times, snatched right out of her hands! I also saw pushing and shoving, and cutting in queues for these CDs. This was especially worse with Belarus and Ukraine because they had so much to hand out!
The best story regarding these promo CDs came about when I asked a fellow press member if it was safe to leave my laptop out while I was running around. She told no one would ever steal my laptop, but they would definitely steal my promo CDs. Another press member then told me about a previous Eurovision where someone actually got kicked out of the press center because she got caught stealing CDs from other’s pigeon-holes (where the delegations typically leave promo materials for the press). It is no wonder that the pigeon-holes this year were behind a desk that were only accessible by the volunteers that were staffing the area.
There was also quite the humorous exchange between two members of the press, where one accused the other of cutting in the queue. The accused individual reassured the other person that he was not in the queue for a CD, but rather asking his friend a question. Sure enough, he got his CD.
I commend those delegations for dealing with the madness so well. Quite frankly, they had to put up with some rude behavior from certain individuals. There were a lot of snarky remarks coming from all corners. I heard people criticize certain promo CDs for not being of high quality because they didn’t look as nice as CDs from countries such as Greece or Georgia. One person even had the audacity to complain about PeR from Latvia handing out copies of their FULL album, rather than promo CDs of HERE WE GO. They complained it was not a collectable item! They must have thought it was bad taste for the boys from PeR to actually try to promote their music.
As Eurovision 2013 progressed, I got a sense that the promo CDs are not about directly promoting the artists anymore. Today is a different era from 20-30 years back, where they have have been a key strategy in promoting an artist before and during Eurovision. Nowadays, thanks to the Internet, we have fan websites, delegation blogs, photos, YouTube, and even Flash Mobs to market the artists. I can also note that one country had a brilliant strategy in which they had a couple people carry around the promo CDs but not hand them out. This delegation then told press that if they wanted a promo CD, they would have to come to their party the following week to get one. It worked as this delegation’s party was packed!
In many cases, some members of the press admitted that they collect them, but do no actually listen to them. When they return home, it goes on a bookshelf or in a storage chest with the rest of the CDs they have collected over the years. I also heard stories about certain people selling the CDs to help pay for their trips or future trips to Eurovision.
So rather than being used to garner radio airplay or media mentions, the promo CDs have become symbols of our Eurovision experiences. The promo CDs symbolize the fandom, a part of the delegations that those present can take home with them as a souvenir. Although some may look down upon the fact that some may not even listen to these promo CDs at home, we could also argue that this is no different to the photos taken on a vacation, only to wind up collecting dust. The promo CDs are not just about getting them; it is more about the process of meeting the artists, all of whom were so friendly and down-to-earth. How could you not want to take such a souvenir home? So even in the madness of the press center, those who were mobbing for the CDs were doing it because they were fans. Even those who may pay ridiculous prices for a promo CD, such as the one who spent 405 Euro on the STRAIGHT INTO LOVE, do it because they are fans.
So once again, this year’s Eurovision aimed to make fans first by giving them many ways to take home memories of the physical variety (and also give them incentive to come back again and again). With that said, I do think some accredited press take the CDs for granted. Thankfully, this was overshadowed by the reactions of the non-accredited fans to whom we gave our promo CDs. I know of some fans that were shocked and disappointed with San Marino not qualifying to the final. But getting a copy of the CRISALIDE promo CD was a nice consolation prize. And when I gave all the promo materials that I had collected to the fans at Europhoria, I saw nothing but happy faces. I was so happy that I had the opportunity to share some of the perks of being a member of the accredited press with others.
I urge the delegations to recognize this evolving purpose of the promo CD. This means that the promo CDs should be distributed amongst many different types of people, and not necessarily just the press. The promo CDs deserve just as much to go to the non-accredited fans that spend their hard-earned money to make the annual pilgrimage to Eurovision. This is not to say that many press members did not go home and share the wealth as well. I understand that not all delegations have the budgets and staffing to make this happen. But for those that can, I am hopeful.
And for those individuals that complain about the lack of promo CDs, or that a particular promo CD is not up to your standards, I urge you to understand that some of these delegations come with limited budgets. We should simply appreciate the opportunity to meet the artists and receive something! And if they cannot or choose not to give us a CD, then perhaps, we should just be happy that the delegations are there! After all, taking part in Eurovision is not cheap! And we should respect the time, money, and labor that it took for each delegation to decide upon an artist and song, rehearse for months, and finally put it all together for a quick three-minute performance.
What do you think about the promo CDs? What do they represent for you? Do you agree with Zack in his assessment of the promo CDs or is he completely off-the-mark. We would love to hear your thoughts. Please comment below!
The author Zack Kerr is an editor for ESC United.