Father John Misty is not, nor is he likely to become in the foreseeable future, the next Ed Sheeran in terms of sales or media exposure. And yet, the Maryland-born singer-songwriter, also known as J. Tillman, is just as dependent, if not more so, upon those precious clicks for survival in the cluttered entertainment landscape of 2016. After all, that new mixtape isn’t just going to stream itself. And, besides, there are concert tickets to sell. What’s a critically respected yet commercially marginal performer to do under those circumstances, especially without a massive marketing budget? In Father John Misty’s case, the obvious answer was to record a series of so-called “rejected” Pandora promos that simultaneously recall vintage FM radio concert ads and unhinged dispatches from the Kurtz compound in Apocalypse Now. Here, for instance, is Father John describing his Pandora mixtape in the most unappetizing way possible.
He also discusses, with astonishing candor, the harsh realities of marketing a tour in the internet age. The path that started with picking up a guitar and strumming those first few tentative chords has now led to discussing “impressions,” “platforms,” and other marketing buzzwords. Father John also bluntly acknowledges his “not quite mainstream” status in the music industry.
Is touring even fun anymore, traveling from city to city to perform for fans? This promo, especially the phrase “convinced I’m dead,” suggests that it is not. Not even close.
In a few of the promos, Father John opts for a laid-back, smooth jazz sound, reminiscent of Chuck Mangione. The message, however, remains bleak.
And what about those listeners who would really just rather be listening to Ed Sheeran? Well, Father John has no problem with that. He’s more than happy to accommodate them, too. Anything for more traffic.