Perry Farrell’s “Ugly American” Attitude & How To Promote Music In Emerging Markets

image from www.google.comPerry Farrell recently upset Brazilian music fans with a comment about their knowledge of music. Though this is bad pr for Lollapalooza's first run at Brazil, it also points to music opportunities in emerging markets for styles of music that are more popular abroad than in the States. All indie musicians – old school or avant garde – would benefit from exploring the possibilities.

Though Perry Farrell claims he didn't actually play "Ugly American" and state that Brazilians are "uneducated about music", the press seems to have missed his earlier derogatory comments at the recent Billboard Touring Conference:

"When we first got there they're like, "Can you bring The Cure?" It made me realize they are, let's call it two years behind, it sounded like even more…The point is that they're going to catch up so quickly to the rest of the world. We're bringing such sophisticated music."

Ok, so despite my respect for Perry Farrell, he is also an arrogant jerk who doesn't understand how to market music in emerging markets. But his comments are also a reminder that emerging markets, such as Brazil, India and China, may well be receptive to forms of music that are not currently as trendy in the States though that shouldn't put off artists with a bunch of whatever they rate you with at Pitchfork!

If you're interested in emerging markets, there are a number of ways to start building ties and creating a fanbase:


60% of YouTube's video views come from audiences that "select a language other than English as the site’s display language." When I was blogging about hip hop fulltime, I began to get contacts from all over the world and most of them had a YouTube presence. So YouTube can be both a way of offering your music to emerging markets and of networking with artists in emerging markets who will help spread the word.


I recently discussed 88tc88, a Hypebot sponsor that can help get your music on mobile phones in China. But mobile music is growing across emerging markets, especially as web users leapfrog past pc's and go straight to mobile.

News about mobile music growth in such markets ranges from a Juniper Research report that singles out China and India, Business analyst Mark Little discussing Google Music as potentially strong in emerging markets due to Android and a recent TNS survey pointing to mobile as the first portal for many consumers in developing markets.


Charlotta Hedman is currently doing a series of posts on emerging markets at Music 4.5 including an interview with a promoter in India. Such a contact can make a huge difference if you're planning on touring abroad but I am also in touch with Aaron Gibson who visited a relative currently in China and set up a show while there that got a great response. I'll be speaking more with him for Hypebot quite soon.

The U.S. government also sponsors musicians in programs like American Music Abroad and hip hop has been one of the genres frequently supported by such programs.

Obviously this post simply scratches the surface. If you're familiar with any of the above approaches to emerging markets, please be in touch. I will be speaking with Aaron Gibson about his experiences and looking for other opportunities to explore this topic, especially if we get a show of interest from Hypebot readers.

Hypebot contributor Clyde Smith maintains his freelance writing hub at Flux Research and blogs at All World Dance and This Business of Blogging. To suggest topics for Hypebot, contact: clyde(at)fluxresearch(dot)com.

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  1. DISCLAIMER: I’m not baggin’ on you for what you said, I’m only sharing my thoughts on your post:
    Hey Clyde, concerning your reference to what Perry Farrell said at the recent Billboard Touring Conference…
    Now while I can’t speak for what Perry supposedly said about Brazilians being uneducated about music, I must say that there is some truth about his comment below:
    “When we first got there they’re like, “Can you bring The Cure?” It made me realize they are, let’s call it two years behind, it sounded like even more…The point is that they’re going to catch up so quickly to the rest of the world. We’re bringing such sophisticated music.”
    I don’t consider this comment to have signs of arrogance. Maybe some pride–but not arrogance.
    When I say that there’s some truth, I know for a fact that what was once popular and no longer popular in the United States a decade or two ago, a lot of times, is still popular in other countries overseas. I used to live in Europe from 2002-2008 and frequented the clubs there.
    I’d be on the dance floor with people my age and younger (I’m currently 27, so obviously I was a little younger than 27 during that time) and people would get excited when the DJ would start bumpin’ some Beach Boys song! I always thought that was weird. I mean, here in the U.S., unless your playing a techno or club version of a Beach Boys song, you’d have to be friggin crazy to play that shit. The club music I grew up on was 2LiveCrew and shit–not the Beach Boys. But yet, they loved that shit over there in Europe.
    The point I’m trying to make is that people in other countries actually aren’t always up-to-date on what’s currently popular in the U.S. Sure, it may have been a stretch for Perry to say that we’re bringing “such sophistication” to Brazil. But yet, I hear DJs in Europe bumpin’ Beach Boys, and I almost want to go up to the DJ and suggest to him of newer awesome music out in the United States that he could be playing instead.
    Perry maybe should’ve phrased it like this instead: “Brazil is missing out on the awesome new music that the U.S. I think Perry was just proud about what we have to offer to Brazil in terms of music.
    But then on the other hand, we may also be missing out on what Brazil has to offer. It can go both ways. As a matter of fact, it’s actually tougher for bands in foreign markets to break into the U.S. than it is the other way around, especially since the U.S. has always been the source for what is considered popular or mainstream.
    So the question is not really how little Brazil may or may not know about the latest and greatest music out there. Instead, the question should be how little we may know about the latest and greatest music out of Brazil.
    And now to sorta change the subject…
    I do agree that you’d have to be crazy not to pursue a place in the foreign markets. Remember, I earlier implied that foreign bands have a harder time breaking into the U.S. than it is for American bands to break into other countries. To turn that statement around, I feel that we have a much easier time breaking into other countries. I think what it is is that people in other countries are more willing to listen to what we have to offer than what they have to offer to us.
    And I actually apply this theory to my Facebook Page all the time. I promote it with ads and I target listeners outside of the U.S., as well as listeners inside our country. As a result, my ads ALWAYS perform better when targeting listeners from foreign countries than it does targeting American listeners. I have over two thousand “Likes” on my page and the U.S. accounts for ONLY 15% of that.
    It kinda sucks, considering that I AM a VERY proud & patriotic American and I’ve even served my country in the Air Force; and yet, most of the people that care to listen to my music are not even American. I mean, it’s not like I sing in any other language or anything or it’s not like the subject content of my songs don’t relate to Americans.
    Maybe it’s because we’ve become so jaded when it comes to new music–I don’t know. All I know is that pursuing exposure in other countries works well, while sticking to pursuing exposure in only the U.S. doesn’t work as well, and that I know this for sure because I routinely apply to my promotion strategy for my music.

  2. I understand where you’re coming from regarding Farrell and I think we’ll just have to disagree on that!
    But if Brazilians wanted to keep up with what’s considered the latest thing among certain sectors of the U.S., I think they probably could without us having to “educate” them.
    Have you checked the Brazil lineup? Two of their big headliners are Foo Fighters and Jane’s Addiction? Nothing fresh or avant garde there! The Cure have a lot of fans some of which have been raving about their recent shows in New York. I’m into Jane’s Addiction because they’re an 80’s band. The Crystal Method – oooh, freshy fresh! Peaches – she was fresh 8 years ago.
    They do have what look like a number of Brazilian acts and some other reasonably contemporary American acts but they also booked Joan Jett. So maybe it’s ed lite? Giving them that GED?
    I listen to jazz from the 50’s and 60’s. Does that make me uneducated because I’m not as interested in contemporary jazz? That’s just my taste.
    Some people say I have bad taste in hip hop cause I’m sick of East Coast lyricism in its stagnant, old school form and think De La Soul is kind of dated. I look newer stuff.
    I’m not saying these things to attack you just to say that, people like what they like and Farrell comes off as arrogant in that unselfconscious way I associate with the idea of the Ugly American.
    I appreciate your comments and especially the fact that you’re sharing your experience with reaching folks in other countries. They are easier to reach if you’re American. I hope that continues. It’s nice to be appreciated!
    PS – I like Bravo Sector. Good luck with it.

  3. “When we first got there they’re like, “Can you bring The Cure?” It made me realize they are, let’s call it two years behind, it sounded like even more…The point is that they’re going to catch up so quickly to the rest of the world. We’re bringing such sophisticated music.”
    The only person who displays a lack of education here is this guy who said this. Such hubris, wow. What is this “rest of the world”? “World” as in the American Baseball “World Series”? That “world” which encompasses the United States?
    So is this guy up to date with the latest in that musically hip neighborhood of Shanghai? How can he say who has to catch up with whom? Or who is backward? As a 3rd-worlder, this guy’s words are making my blood boil. Sophisticated music? i believe sophistication in US music is long gone… the so-called sophisticated musicians these days are simply marketing and sales acts. Which is what Lollapalooza is, just a huge commercial exercise. Definitely Ugly.

  4. Hey somegal,
    And here lies one reason why I implied earlier that “people, specifically Americans, are too jaded to notice great music; whether from in the U.S. or from another country.”
    While it is true that a lot of the mainstream music are just marketing and sales acts, there is still good non-commercialized music and sophisticated musicians out there. It is not, as you say, “long gone,”–it’s more like you just stopped looking.
    It’s not your fault. All the shitty mainstream music gets pounded in our heads, day after day, by mediums (tv, ads, movies, etc.) that are still controlled by the big record labels and the corporations that fund them. It gets harder and harder everyday to see past all the b.s. to notice that there’s actually a diamond in the rough, causing people like you to just give up on it entirely and resort to saying things along the lines of, “music isn’t as good as it used to be.”
    I myself am a singer/songwriter and I sweat blood writing AND self-producing AND promoting & releasing my music. Therefore, the worst thing any musician would ever want to hear is not that “you don’t like music from me, a new artist”, but rather that “you don’t like new music, in general.”
    So I ask that you not give up on music, or music from the U.S. Instead, understand that there is still great sophisticated music in the U.S., it’s just that you can’t hear it very well because the corporations have turned up the volume on the shitty music.

  5. i totally hear what you’re saying! i was getting rather carried away by my cynicism. i do realize i’m guilty of letting my own jadedness due to the saturated, noisy environment permeate into my worldview, and hence the generalized pronouncement.
    the volume you talked about has certainly been turned up by local corporations in “emerging markets” too. there seem to be upcoming indie scenes in places like india but commodification and commercialization seem to come first these days. music for music sakes appears a relic sometimes. i applaud all your hard work into the business side of things; i totally understand the effort that goes into it, as someone who is close to an artist who is having a difficult time coming to terms with the realities of being an artist today.
    thanks for the article!

  6. thanx clyde. this is a scary comment indeed.
    i am half brazilian and i spent a great deal of time helping us bands to break in europe as well as european bands to break in the us. the key word is localisation !
    -80 % of brazilian people has african roots
    -if you want to promote hip american new bands over there , you should be aware that you will target the so called brazilian 1 % …
    -Brazil is one of the most prolific and creative place in the world right now. There is new music genres poping up every year … and new bands are hitting tens of millions views on youtube. it is a huge local market.
    – and if you ever want to devellop a new market, might be better to be sure that ur music fits the local(s) culture(s) first and if so, teaming up with locals artists is a good first step.

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