Please speak slowly and clearly

Chris JonesThere are just a few days left in IBMA second round voting, and some things have surprised me this time around:

One is how few “for your consideration” solicitation emails I’ve actually received. Perhaps I’ve dropped off of mailing lists, and that can only be a good thing.

To date, I’ve received only one from an artist, and two from record labels. One of the labels made sure to stress that they weren’t really urging me to vote for their artist, accompanied by a photo and list of second round categories just so I’d be clear about what I wasn’t being urged to vote for. I just see this as another sign that people are taking a more subtle approach to this issue, if they’re approaching it at all.

I’ve received none at all from publicists, so if you’ve paid a publicist to do this for you, you may want to have a discussion with him or her. Or, as I said, I may just be off the list now, though I still seem to be on the list of people being targeted with phony i-Tunes store receipts and other phishing emails. This again proves the rule: you’ll always stay on the lists you never wanted to be on in the first place.

It’s clear now that while more voter participation is needed, people have realized that the solicitation of awards votes at this stage of the process may have more negative consequences than positive, or it’s just not effective anymore. This is exactly why I suggested the subliminal method last week.

As it turned out, the message contained in my little poem was so subliminal that almost no one saw it, even when they were specifically looking for it, and that’s exactly what I wanted.

Burying messages in bad poetry or within a picture of an ice cube—like they do in the drink ads—may not be for everybody, but there may be some simple alternatives to soliciting votes using modern communications technology some of us use already.

Do you send texts using voice recognition? It’s handy, and it’s come a long way, but I still find it pretty unreliable. I recall once trying to recite the first line of The Star Spangled Banner into my smartphone, and it came up with, “Oh say can you see what dogs really like” (possibly the new pet-friendly national anthem?).

SiriusXM’s listener voicemails are now readable through voice recognition, but it’s still a somewhat flawed system. This is how it transcribed a listener request for Don’t Step Over an Old Love by the Stanley Brothers: “Them and Darren Just Hung Up by the Stanley Brothers.”

I also recently got this message (I promise I didn’t make this up): “Chris, this is Lorraine and one’s a surgeon calling to ask to deploy when you’re next week’s true greatness Velez from and I know this man result nine got such a beautiful fall and I would appreciate so much if you can play it if it’s old enough. Thank you so much and have a great weekend.”

I don’t think we have this one in the library.

This was my favorite:

“County and critical but the stance it’s let you know that I hit the T rat off. Hey girl, it’s with you but I am not some Lexus also, it’s Hill to get it. They were going to be there or not this wondering about things like that and wondering what you think about this stuff on the truck they get talk to you can correct. The plan would pass that on so if you don’t have that in your records to be a good one for you to get it you are picking President, but give me a call I’ll be there.”

I was pretty baffled by this one at first, but I finally decided it was either a cryptic message from one mobster to another about hijacking a truck, or it was a roundabout request for Jimmy Martin’s Guitar Pickin’ President (a cold war era classic written by Tom T. Hall). Possibly it’s both: a truck-hijacking mobster who also wants to hear Guitar Pickin’ President. In either case, I felt compelled to play the song. I also plan to incorporate the phrase, “I am not some Lexus also” into my everyday conversation.

It says a lot about subliminal persuasion that in spite of the fact that this message was pure gibberish, I intended to answer a request I’m not sure I actually got. This could certainly be applied to asking for IBMA nomination votes in an environment in which this practice is frowned upon by some.

With that in mind, I decided to experiment and call and leave myself a voice mail soliciting votes for the IBMA second round, and listing the categories that we’re currently in, and what I got is pretty well-encoded, except that the system seems very good at picking out the word “consideration.” This is the true unedited result:

“Hey, just wanna let you know that their industry. They left an email I’ll be on my way. Second row boat and so we really appreciate your consideration in the following categories under guarantee your vocal group and you’re available close to their base plate earlier my little blurb your song of the year. All of the apartments of your estimate of court and forth. So thanks a lot for any consideration you can get a lot of.”

I might use “All of the apartments of your estimate” as the headline of the message. Either that, or it would make a good album title. “Second Rowboat” would also work.

Just for good measure, and for an extra layer of encryption, I decided to try it again with a Scottish accent, because I feel a kinship with the Scots, and because it’s an accent that voice recognition technology has had historic trouble with.


This is what I got:

“Yeah, I did meet with us just want to let you know this is just a few days left and second of all things so if you have a chance appreciate your consideration for income ago. He’s out with and I was a local Group. The me a low cost also if Taylor basically a problem I will need to sign of the unit also a call or to been to instead go to court or performance appreciate. It so much thanks for your support us but.”

I notice that it heard “Taylor” in my message, and I’m guessing that’s because of Taylor Swift’s recent breakup with Scottish DJ Calvin Harris, and voice recognition, upon hearing the accent, made the assumption that this was a subject of importance to me (how quickly our technology stereotypes us!).

Coming soon, in time for the final nominations: how to woo IBMA voters using hypnosis, whining, and/or good old fashioned extortion. For now, though, I have to go back to a new song I’m working on: “Them and Darren Just Hung Up.”