iamamiwhoami Stealth Marketing Campaign Continues With Live Concert Stream Today
[Update] The iamamiwhoami project began back in December 2009 when select bloggers in the States received emails with a link to a YouTube video that was the first in an extended series and reaches a peak with a streamed concert this afternoon. As more videos were released, a guessing game ensued among writers for a variety of high-visibility music blogs and trend-focused web publications that became participants in one of the more unique mergers of high art, music marketing and pop culture.
iamamiwhoami was eventually identified as Jonna Lee and the iamamiwhoami project is performing at the Way Out West festival that will be streamed live at around 3 pm ET today. A blog post cannot do justice to this project but I do want to point to a few aspects related to marketing.
[Update: I feel like I've been Rick Rolled. Maybe something will show above or maybe there will be videos available later but it's not streaming and based on Twitter comments the show has started. Apologies but this is the kind of thing that happens when you go stealth, other people climb on and nobody takes responsibility for anything. Oh, and insert "gullible bloggers" as appropriate!]
According to the Wikipedia entry 23 videos were released via YouTube though the iamamiwhoami YouTube channel currently has only 16. Early blog entries, such as this one at Gorilla Vs. Bear contain dead videos, partly due to usage of footage from other YouTube videos resulting in takedown requests.
However jwz.org has a YouTube playlist with 28 videos that one can see individually though some connect to an iambountytk account which is no longer visible. Going to iambounty.tk, which apparently used to show the deleted videos, redirects to www.iambountyfan.com/uk/wow.html which has a countdown in progress and a Justin.tv embed for streaming today's live show.
You get the idea, it's down the rabbit hole catalogued obsessively by the web but, ultimately, it leads to actual humans in performance who are unlikely to live up to the mystery of what has occurred to date. As with many stealth music marketing campaigns, the mystery is dissolved, though this one has managed to maintain some tension even after Jonna Lee was identified.
Lots of guesses were made about the source, from Trent Reznor to Lady Gaga, though I agree with GVB that the Lady Gaga guess was "weak". However, what the iamamiwhoami project shares with Lady Gaga is the process of taking high art concepts and utilizing them in pop culture contexts. It's the shift in context that helps make it evocative, as if Matthew Barney and Bjork obscured their visual/vocal identities in their collaboration and began distributing their work via YouTube and blogs.
A variety of people mention William Gibson, some referring to the novel Pattern Recognition in which a series of short films are released online and followed obsessively by fans who dissect each detail. Given the novel's focus on such cutting edge marketing techniques as "roach bait" and the interest in the films by a marketing company, this reference is particularly apropos.
Tracking this stuff down definitely put me in OCD mode though my recognition that I was simply writing a blog post kept things under control. Nevertheless, I'm impressed with a project that can't be dismissed simply as marketing but clearly has managed to merge art flicks, YouTube, electronic music, marketing, web obsessions, the competitive nature of indie music blogs and an iTunes release in a manner that few could pull off so successfully.
Hypebot contributor Clyde Smith is a freelance writer and blogger. Flux Research is his business writing hub and All World Dance: World Dance News is his primary web project. To suggest websites and related topics for review, please contact: clyde(at)fluxresearch(dot)com.