Friday, May 25, 2007

What's the Buzz?

What's the Buzz-tell me what's a happenin'

Buzz, Buzz, Buzz.

No, I'm not calling any Apollo astronauts. I remarked to a few people this week that the American Idol finale seemed like an afterthought. There was no buzz. I kind of feel badly for Jordin Sparks, she will need some serious manufactured buzz in order to have a successful album.

What is buzz and what is the difference between manufactured buzz and genuine buzz? How do you get people truly interested to ask "What's the Buzz?" as they did here in Jesus Christ Superstar from 1973?

As an aside, I saw JSC last month starring Ted Neeley. Yes, the same Ted Neeley in this clip. He looks great for a man in his 60's and can still hit the screaming notes but the rest of it was rough. But you know what? The buzz throughout the theater when he first appeared was very real. It had less to do with where his voice was and more to do with people being genuinely happy to see him perform.

Buzz is created with a spark but the talk, the interest has to be natural because the spark is part of an actual fire. Manufactured buzz is sort of like those fake gas fireplaces that require fuel to keep burning. Manufactured buzz can last as long as the source of the "fake fuel" continues and this usually means money. But real buzz is when the fire remains or can be rekindled all on its own at a later date.

This year's AI finale was more like that televised Yule Log film loop that you turn on at Christmas. Contrast this year with last year when a simple hint that Clay Aiken might be performing set off a frenzy on the entertainment shows. When he did appear in the infamous segment with fan and wannabe Michael Sandecki, the buzz Clay created lasted for a week after, nearly eclipsed the actual winner's moment and completely overshadowed the fact that Prince performed later.

Many artists can create buzz when there is time for something to promote. Their publicist works with all entertainment mediums to get them exposure. But except for the big stars, nobody pays much attention to what they do otherwise, especially in between film, TV or music projects. Clay's move from LA to Raleigh made the CNN ticker. Manufactured buzz can sometimes create enough genuine buzz to sustain it when the publicist's efforts stop but that's pretty rare. And then there's the Paris Hilton situation, but that's just Buzz-arre.

Clay is going to be touring 22 cities this July and August. Tickets have been on sale all spring and each venue tells us they cannot believe the buzz as soon as ticket sales were announced. I had one venue that I was speaking with about a group ticket buy. Our tickets were going to be assigned after their member ticket assignments and the fanclub presale. At first they promised me that all of our 30 requested tickets would be in the front orchestra section. Then they said because of the pre sale buzz, they thought maybe half the tickets would be in the front orchestra section. By the time, the buzz built the tickets were in the second orchestra section and not until the 7th row. The group ticket coordinator said he's never seen anything like it. All that buzz is felt throughout the venues and builds greater demand the next time he is booking a tour. Another venue said they estimated a demand of about 10,000 tickets for a venue that held 2500, just because of the pre sale buzz.

I've written before about buzz at a baseball game and I'm sure there will be buzz next year as all the political primaries start happening. But those sorts of things are to be expected. Buzz is harder to generate in the entertainment field without serious PR push because there is so much competition. But when you've got IT, that fire never goes away.

Looking to get sparked this summer, check out for the tour schedule.

. To the front row....and beyond!

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Photoshop courtesy of Invisible926


Pink Armchair said...

Yes, the buzz surrounding Clay is undeniable, and only seems to be getting louder. It's going to be harder and harder to get those good concert seats, and while I worry that henceforth I'll only be able to see him through binoculars (unless I win the Lottery), I'm thrilled for him that he's still managed to be so popular.

Agree that this year's AI finale didn't seem to have any real "watercooler" moments, and that's too bad. Maybe they needed a polarizing figure like Clay. Or maybe the show has lost its focus with all of the irrelevant guest stars -- perhaps they should stick with people who are (or were) affiliated with the show.

OneIdolWoman said...

I agree with Pink Armchair about, what I consider, irrelevent guest performers on AI. I'd much rather see and hear former AI contestants perform. At least in the case of AI6, the former contestants would be out-performing the current contestants by country miles. I'd love to see Clay, Ruben, Kimberly and Josh perform together. That would bring down the house! There is so much the AI producers could do with AI's own stars throughout each season and during the finale.

4theloveofClay said...

You are so right!
I've only start watching every episodes of AI during season 2 because of Clay. Season 1, although new, didn't really grab my interest, it peaked in season 2, then by last season my interest started to diminish. I hardly watched this season at all, i found it quite boring. It's all mainly because although there have been great singers along with not so good ones, there hasn't been one so unique and phenomenon as Clay.
It's true how some people just have IT while others have to create or demand it, and Clay got IT.

berkeley said...

Best recent real buzz on Clay: his coast-to-coast Canadia "tour" with David Foster, hanging out with politicians and the powerful. Clay had only one public event in Vancouver, but there was genuine interest demonstrated in breathless reports of his mere presence in Calgary and Toronto.

Worst recent manufactured buzz: any attention paid to that silly ass gossip column with the latest iteration of the diva of the day story. Tempest, meet teapot.

A very interesting blog, Corabeth. Thanks.