Friday Fuss | Battle Of The Brands


The Friday Fuss is a weekly opinion column whereby we invite contributors in the local music industry to pen their thoughts on anything related to the industry. This is an opportunity for musicians, promoters and fans to share their opinions in order to create discussion in an effort to enhance the industry.

This weeks featured columnist is Tessa Lily from Cortina Whiplash


My rant is two-fold and the two folds are, as with vaginas, connected.

Let’s start with fold one, battle-of-the-bands competitions – We’ve been around for a while now and have been a part of and won our fair share of battle of the bands.  Some are relatively harmless, like the ones that saw us get slots at prominent festivals (albeit unpaid slots at prominent festivals). Others are less harmless. Most purport to be a way to support and assist local musicians but rarely have anything to do with supporting local musicians. Let’s take a moment to dissect what a battle-of-the-bands competition usually entails:

They are usually sponsored by a recognizable brand and are a great marketing avenue for them. It’s only reasonable to expect a brand to benefit from the exposure – I mean they’re putting up the funds to host the events, lending an employee with generally no gig experience to coordinate the events, handling all the admin involved and sponsoring the prizes. So far so good right? Sure, uh huh whoop dee doo. On the band’s side, sometimes you have to pay an entry fee (handling costs I suppose), cover travel costs to attend shows, promote the brand and events to your fans (who usually have to pay a cover charge to attend the events, more handling costs I suppose) and these days there is usually a prerequisite to ‘like’ brand pages on social media, increasing their numbers. So essentially you enter and attend at your own cost as well as promote the brand to your friends. Still no problem there, totally within the realms of acceptable give and take, here’s our problem though:

Almost always these events are run under the guise of uplifting local musicians, to show how much the brand cares about the local music industry and its musicians. But in a capitalist society, where your bottom line is the bottom line, the truth is always that no one has anyone’s best interests in mind but their own. Once all is said and done and the competition and marketing it brings are over, rest assured that you will be left fighting for what you’ve rightfully earned. Why they pretend to care is simple – it makes them look good on paper, people pay people to come up with this crap. I can just picture the board meeting now, “You know what we should do Joe? We should run a battle-of-the-bands competition. Wow Pieter, that’s a brilliant idea let me hold your penis for you, here’s your bonus”. This is how they should read though,

‘INSERT BRAND NAME HERE battle of the bands, step right up and be the next sucker to provide us with free marketing while we patronize you and wow you with our ineptitude at organizing shows, also we lied about the prizes. Enjoy!’.

Perhaps you can sense the disdain in my tone, the hurt and disappointment after being put through this yet again. After the first time we went through the ordeal of holding a brand to its promises we decided never to enter another comp of this nature again but against our better judgement we did, thinking that this time the brands were well established and seemed to be genuinely interested in supporting the band. But oh, were we wrong. I can’t name names, I’m old enough to know that I could get into trouble for launching an all out hate campaign against the brands that have truly wronged us. But rest assured it’s coming… in sort of the words of The Violent Femmes,

“Cortina Whiplash, they bring all their equipment on the bus and you can’t fuck with Cortina Whiplash, you cannot fuck with this band”

© Leigh Lobotomy

© Leigh Lobotomy

This brings me to the second fold – General sponsorship. I have a word of advice to any up and coming band, don’t fucking bother with sponsors. If you insist on bothering then make sure you get every detail of the sponsorship agreement in writing. You’ll spend hours managing the relationship, compromising your image and ideals to accommodate them and for what? In our experience the return has never been worth the effort. When it stops being about what you can do for them and comes down to what they can do for you their enthusiasm ends. I can’t speak for all bands and all brands but at this point we have very little faith that there is a brand out there that can truly purport to support local musicians. Maybe if we were, oh um I don’t know, The Parlotones things would be different, they can command a huge audience (sigh) and therefore carry more weight with sponsors. But we aren’t the Parlotones, we’re Cortina Whiplash and we’re over having to get on our knees to prove our worth to brands.

I suppose we can only blame ourselves for thinking that a band like ours would ever be able to have a mutually beneficial relationship with any sponsor. We were never meant to be censored or compromised for the sake of a brand.

All this speaks to a larger crisis that many artists experience, having to constantly justify your trade to a world that values all the wrong things and at the same time find a way to exist within that warped world.

In writing this I’ve probably jeopardized our current sponsor relationships, but from where I stand we don’t stand to lose much.




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Founder | Failed Musician | Digital Devotee | Unjournalist | Successful Thief | "Nothing Is Original. Steal Like An Artist"