PR 101: How to Avoid Morrissey's Mistake
Sweetheart Pubstack #31
We’re Rachel Hurley and Frank Keith IV, co-owners of the Sweetheart Pub. We’re music industry veterans with over 30 years of combined experience in the music business, having worked in licensing, talent buying/booking, label management, tour management, and more. Once a week, we’ll publish a new edition of this newsletter, where we’ll share some philosophy and actionable advice on all facets of the music industry.
We’ve been putting together a weekly playlist of seven songs (just enough to keep your attention) every week — check out The Sweet Spot to hear what we’ve been listening to.
What we’re thinking about this week…
Why Morrissey’s Reaction to his Perceived Portrayal on The Simpsons was a Complete Misstep
I used to love The Simpsons, but I haven’t watched it in years. With so many options these days, it never crosses my mind to tune in and I STILL have not watched the Morrissey episode, "Panic on the Streets of Springfield," which featured a thinly-veiled version of the singer named Quilloughby. I don’t care enough about Morrissey to bother.
BUT…from the myriad of coverage of the incident, I’ve learned that in the episode, Lisa Simpson is unable to find any music she actually likes on a fictional streaming service (based on the real-world Spotify). In the end she discovers the alt-band The Snuffs — clearly inspired by The Smiths just as past episodes have coyly transformed Apple into Mapple. Feeling pre-teen angst, Quilloughby becomes Lisa's imaginary friend — a fact Simpsons executive producer Matt Selman claimed on Twitter was inspired by Taika Waititi's Jo Jo Rabbit.
It turns out that Tim Long, who wrote "Panic on the Streets of Springfield" — a clear reference to The Smith's "Panic," which has the lyrics "Panic on the streets of London, Panic on the streets of Birmingham" — told Stereogum that the character isn't just Morrissey. Instead, Quilloughby is "definitely Morrissey-esque, with maybe a small dash of Robert Smith from the Cure, Ian Curtis from Joy Division, and a bunch of other people."
The real takeaway from all of this is that not everyone is going to like you and calling attention to negative feedback is probably not going to make anyone reverse course — it’s going to draw more eyeballs to the situation and exacerbate the situation. Without Morrissey's long rebuttal on Monday on his FB page, most people would have forgotten about the whole thing in a week.
Here’s my free advice to anyone who receives any negative feedback on just about anything:
Wait three days before you address it. If you’re still seething after three days, take a moment to reflect on why.
Most of the time the best way to handle it is to simply ignore it.
“The credit belongs to those who are actually in the arena, who strive valiantly; who know the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, and spend themselves in a worthy cause; who at best know the triumph of high achievement; and who, at worst, if they fail, fail while daring greatly, so that their place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.”
― Theodore Roosevelt
Below is a response we received to last week’s “Atypical Release Strategy” newsletter which we found interesting and wanted to share:
Jorge from Stormy Mondays here. You asked for hot takes, so here I go...
On our latest release I held off the digital distribution and staggered all the different “release” dates, you can see it here.
First the CD (on our website only), three months later the CD in stores, another month for digital…and thanks to the pandemic, a full extra year for the vinyl!
While this was a bit extreme, it worked well for us.
Your strategy ties in with one of my pet peeves: people announcing stuff that I can’t buy. No matter if it’s a record, or a piece of hardware. I’m hearing about it NOW, but I can’t buy it? Why bother then? By the time it’s out, I might have completely forgotten about it.
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As we often receive requests to work with artists who don’t have the budget to afford a full campaign, we’re launching an “Office Hours”-style consulting service where you can book us for 30 or 60-minute blocks of one-on-one time.
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