We bring you the next chapter of our “Our Take” column, today discussing the impact of celebrity driven lifestyle platforms.
Nick: Jay-Z made a splash last week with the launch of Lifeandtimes.com.
Celebrity driven lifestyle platforms, of course, are nothing new. Kanye West has tantalized audiences with two, and other celebrity names are attached to various tumbler accounts expressing some vague notion of “inspiration.”
What is the impact of these sites? Are these outlets providing new takes on style or conferring a real sense of the celebrity’s style? Lifeandtimes.com differs from some – there is no smoke and mirrors about who is actually behind the keyboard (a proper staff), but Mr. Carter’s name carries all the weight, and with it brings immediate traffic. However, the similarities with a site like Global Grind are clear. A corporate, celebrity attempt at joining blog culture with somewhat nebulous mission.
Some might argue sites like this deliberately take shine away from established independent websites. Others believe celebrity sites, by nature rather middling, help drive interest back to more authentic niche urls.
Jeff: But the blog is not about him. If we’re asking if celebrities should start a blog one might as well ask if celebrities can open restaurants (Planet Hollywood) and also be architects (Brad Pitt). They have the choice to try an endeavor they want. In terms of starting a new site (I wouldn’t call it a blog), Life & Times looks to harness the power of writers from other blogs to provide them content. The model is the one most sites use: Huffpo and their big money deal is putting it into the minds of investors that “content” and “aggregation” are the easy wins to grow traffic.
“Making the extraordinary, ordinary” is a great theme, but as you bring the extraordinary to the masses, something new will brew to take its place. That to me is the most exciting proposition.
Read the rest of the discussion after the jump.
David: I have a very mixed opinion about these things. I guess somebody like Jay-Z does it for branding purposes – associating himself with certain products, music, events, basically building his own brand by pushing others. But knowing that he has absolutely nothing to do with what actually goes onto that site, still makes it a little unreal. Its pure strategy and brand building, which is actually not very charming. I like the fact that he is able to build traffic fast and a lot, simply because he is Jay-Z and with that traffic gets to push others that he is inspired by. The strategy for Life + Times seems to be different though than what we saw on Kanye’s site a while ago. They seem to create content, rather than link other sites that they feel inspire them. Does that make it a copy? I am not sure. I think it will be interesting to see how the site and others in the area develop. How long do they keep up with the content creation, what is their long term plan? Kanye, who did it very successfully, quit the blogging business rather quickly. Also in the case of Life + Times it will be interesting to see how important Jay-Z’s involvement is to the growth of the site. Because what clearly drove Kanye’s site was the fact that you felt like he was actually contributing to it. A Jay-Z site without Jay-Z, who knows.
Timbo: These celeb “style” sites are just a predictable move in accordance with the laws of celebrity. Famous people, especially those with goods to sell, need maximum exposure to retain relevance to continue to make money. It’s not that they aren’t entertaining or even interesting but whether it’s a supposed first person blog or a full-fledged website, celebrity sites are nothing more than an extension of the celebrity’s branding. it’s much easier to start an internet site than land a television show or movie part so most celebs are going that direction to increase their overall brand presence with consumers. It’s purely a good business decision. Let’s have a celebrity start a scholarship grant giving or small business funding site before we start contemplating too hard about what they’re doing online.
Pete: I too have very mixed thoughts on sites like Life + Times. While original content is a step up from aggregation, I don’t fully buy the output. In the beginning, many people turned to blogs in search of a less biased, more independent take on media. Though lines are blurring – our properties are loaded with ads – I’d like to think that we’re still trusted as an authentic voice, covering what we like, and what holds value to our readers.
With sites like Life + Times … what is the end goal? Simply put: brand exposure – here the brand being Jay-Z himself. Are they getting exposure? So far, yes (look at this piece.) But so far the content I’ve witnessed has felt very calculated, stories that feel inspired by the successful works of others. Sure the work is good, even great, but it’s exactly what you (someone in this business) would expect to see from a site like this (highly funded with built-in traffic.) And to be honest, I haven’t been privy to anything that I feel channels Jay-Z himself – something I personally would have preferred.
In the end, I think the core stance of a celebrity blog should be to give fans an inside line to their choice celebrity’s lifestyle; something Kanye arguably succeeded in with his blog (ghostwritten or not.) I suppose in this case that’s not at all the target. Life + Times clearly have set their sights on something much more Nowness (LVMH.) Does Jay-Z need to, or want to, be involved with the front lines at all? At the very least, he’s got people talking. Let’s just let him “handle his business, damn.”
Get in on the discussion and leave your comment here below, we’d love to hear it! Also, should you have other interesting topics you would want to discuss with out team, do a write up and send it to info(at)highsnobiety(dot)com.