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ARTIC MONKEYSMS4 MUSIC INDUSTRY CASE STUDY
ARCTIC MONKEYS – ARTIST BACKGROUND & CONTEXT
■ Working Class Sheffield based British Indie Rock band who formed in 2002.
■ Arctic Monkeys are a British indie rock band consisting of members Nick O’Malley, Jamie Cook, Matt Helders, and Alex Turner. The group has not only enjoyed both commercial success and critical acclaims as part of the post-punk revival, but it has been also credited as one of the first indie bands to rise to mainstream prominence primarily through free file-sharing and fandom on the Internet.
■ They had a big grass roots following in the North with the band giving out free demo tapes and putting music on out My Space to raise awareness.
■ In 2005 they signed up with Domino Records and their first single “I Bet you Look Good on the Dance Floor” went straight to No. 1.
■ The Arctic Monkeys kept their edgy sound for the first two albums in 2005 “Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not”, 2006 “Favourite Worst Nightmare”, started to experiment in 2009 “Humbug” and their fan base dwindled. They went transatlantic in their feel with their 2011 “Suck it and See” album, and reinvented themselves for the 2013 album “AM” which showed a return to form and commercial success for the Arctic Monkeys.
ARCTIC MONKEYS - GENRE
■ The Arctic Monkeys are a British Indie Rock band.
■ This genre tends to be seen as “authentic and organic”, where the artists play their own instruments and sing their own material.
■ The sound is heavily guitar orientated, has strong vocals and drum percussion is a strong element to the sound. Often fast paced and edgy, Brit Indie is distinct from the lighter Brit Pop of the previous decade.
■ The Arctic Monkeys sound changed and absorbed elements of American Soft Rock in order to broaden their commercial appeal
ARCTIC MONKEYS – REPRESENTATION■ The Representation issues surrounding the Arctic Monkeys are varied.
■ Initially their music represented everyday people doing regular things
and “spoke” to the working class audience, their image was initially
post-Mod in its look, Levi jeans, Fred Perry T-shirts, Harrington Jackets
and short hair.
■ The band’s image changed to that of long hair, dressed in black with
trench coats during the Humbug era.
■ This has morphed to that of 50s style Teddy boys / greasers with slick
back hair, Italian suits and surrounding themselves with Americana
■ Gender Representation has been problematic with some early videos
giving unsympathetic representation of women, to later videos giving
objectified visions of women.
ARCTIC MONKEYS – REPRESENTATIONWHEN THE SUN GOES DOWN. CRYING LIGHTNING. SNAP OUT OF IT. ONE FOR THE ROAD.
ARCTIC MONKEYS – INDUSTRY PRODUCTION & MARKETING
■ Initially in 2002 the Arctic Monkeys stayed as indie band, keeping away from major record labels and self-promoting. They use the internet and gigs for distribution and made a name for themselves on grass roots level.
■ In 2005 they signed with Domino Records who are a British independent record label. Their early music videos were mini films which often featured a British actor, shot on location in Sheffield and featured gritty British mise-en-scene.
■ In 2011, Turner wrote six songs for the movie ‘Submarine,’ a British comedy about a boy trying to lose his virginity. This cross-media promotion helped keep the Arctic Monkeys in the public eye.
■ In 2012 the Arctic Monkeys played at the opening ceremony of the London Olympics.
■ As they developed as a band their videos looked more polished and used green screens showcasing the band as stars. Their later music videos were filmed in the US and were obviously more expensive to make and showed the band as stars rather than regular guys.
■ In 2014 they performed a sell out a performance in New York City’s Madison Square Gardens on the 50th Anniversary of The Beatles breakthrough performance in the US.
■ Their commercial success has allowed them to target a US market and engage on extensive album tours.
ARCTIC MONKEYS – NARRATIVE
■ The rags to riches story of the Arctic Monkeys is fairly typical of British artists.
■ The working class lads from Yorkshire sang about every day issues like going to the
pub, going looking to pick up girls and the consequences of living a regular lives. The
band rarely featured in their videos, often just having cameos and getting British
actors to do bit part roles in their narrative based videos.
■ Once the band achieved commercial success, got some money, they changed their
vocal style, their “sound” and started to reinvent themselves as Rock Gods (see
Crying Lightning). They then relocated to America and adopted American
iconography and lived the lives of Rock Stars.
■ Their later videos are less about everyday lives in England, and are more focussed
on affairs, whereas their videos are less narrative and more focussed on slow
motion black and white shots of Alex Turner surrounded by pretty girls.
ARCTIC MONKEYS – TARGET AUDIENCE■ The initial target audience for the band was primarily fans of the British Indie Rock
genre. The demographic has a slightly young (15-25) male working class bias.
■ After the transatlantic success of AM the fan-base has developed to include a lot
more teenage girls with the re-branding of Alex Turner, the frontman, as a teen
heartthrob. The band now has a well established American fan base whereas its
British following has seen lots of ups and downs.
ARCTIC MONKEYS – AUDIENCE INTERACTION
■ Initially the Artic Monkeys were a grass roots band, mingling
with the fans giving out free demo tapes and being very
active on My Space communicating with their fans.
■ The Artic Monkeys website is a vehicle for posting
information about album and single releases and upcoming
■ Currently the website has not been updated by the band for
months and lots of “when are releasing a new album +
please tour” comments show the band’s lack of fan
ARCTIC MONKEYS – AUDIENCE POSITIONING
■ The band initially positioned themselves as regular guys
calling their music “CHIP SHOP ROCK” emphasising the
man in the street appeal that they had.
■ Fans of the Arctic Monkeys never had a label attached to
them, they were simply fans of a band who were just like
■ In the latter half of their career they have re-positioned
themselves as Rock Stars and their fans are positioned
to see the band (Alex Turner) as heart-throbs.
ARCTIC MONKEYS – AUDIENCE RESPONSE:sales figures
ALBUM UK SALES US SALES
Whatever People Say I Am,
That's What I'm Not (2006)
1.5 MILLION 860,000
Favourite Worst Nightmare
Humbug (2009) 400,000 28,000
Suck It and See (2011) 300,000 92,000
AM (2013) 900,000 655,000
All the albums got to #1 in the UK album charts.
First 2 singles were #1 in 2005. Last top 5 single in 2007.
The last single from AM reached #80 in the UK charts…
ARCTIC MONKEYS – MEDIA DEBATES
■ The Arctic Monkeys were a big success
and championed regular working class
people and their music.
■ The band are multi-award winning and
sell out large capacity venues
whenever they tour.
■ The Arctic Monkeys sold out and went
to live in LA.
■ The end?