Jon Morter is the DJ who stood up to Simon Cowell’s empire and ensured that Rage Against The Machine‘s ‘Killing In The Name’ re-release was Christmas number one. On top of winning numerous ‘Social Marketer of the Year’ awards, Morter tells Sean Bw Parker ‘Leonard Cohen just bores me’
So let’s get this one out of the way first. How did you celebrate when you discovered ‘Killing In The Name’ had beaten Simon Cowell’s offering to the Christmas number one spot in 2009?
I put the kettle on and made a cup of tea. No seriously that was the first thing I did, at around 2pm on Sunday 20th December. I remember it well as I was in my kitchen trying in vain to actually do some housework rather than stay glued to a computer screen, when my phone rang twice in close succession. Both calls were from national newspapers telling me virtually the same story…
“It looks like you’ve beaten the X Factor by about 50,000 sales but keep it under your hat”. This is when I just knew we’d had it in the bag. There was even a solitary leak on Twitter saying pretty much the same thing, so to keep the tension going I went online and disputed the claim.
By 5pm I was in a car being driven to BBC TV Centre to appear on the news. There was heavy traffic and I was in a car that couldn’t receive FM…so I never actually heard the official announcement by Scott Mills that night!
Why do you hate the X Factor so much? Some might say Cowell simply taps into a public love of catchy singles and talent shows, and deserves his success…
Firstly let me just say that I have never hated The X Factor at all as a piece of Saturday night entertainment for people. It’s just a talent show, that’s all, and if it brings success to its creator then good luck to it. Yes it’s fair to say I’m not its biggest fan and find its released output to be pretty tepid, but I don’t hate it as such and a good friend of mine was a live finalist a couple of years ago. What I really disliked was its arrogance when it came to releasing the winning single. I (and over 1.6 million others on Facebook as it transpired) simply had enough of seeing our quirky annual Christmas No.1 tradition being flattened by this corporate sugary machine.
Regarding Simon Cowell, he’s successful at what he does…fair play to him, and on a personal level he seems nice enough (we chatted on the phone a couple of times after the event), but we’re very different people when it comes to the music.
Your social networking campaigning organisation the Big Other is well-organised and effective, where many other campaigns fail. What’s the secret to this success, would you say?
We just DO it rather than going onto Twitter and telling others how to do it. I see so many supposed ‘social media experts’ that simply tweet about social media rather than using that time to actually get stuck in and try to break it. To me a lot of it is about getting real, as in being a human and communicating with others like humans do. Yes that sounds a bit obvious but I see so many who are not human-like and just using Twitter/Facebook in a way they THINK they should be (a great example is to ‘ask an engaging question’). This looks false, and you know what? people aren’t stupid
Do you really prefer Rick Astley to Leonard Cohen?
Yes. Rick has some great pop tunes in his armour, Leonard Cohen just bores me.
There’s a common saying going around: smart young people don’t listen to guitar music anymore. What do you think about this?
I can’t say I’ve ever heard that saying so naturally I’m going to take that with a pinch of salt. My thoughts are that people should listen to what the hell they like, whether it’s guitar music, Jazz, Metal, or orchestral covers by James Last. As long as they don’t care what others think then everyone should like what they want…when it comes to myself as an example I’d much rather listen to the greatest hits of Wham! than anything by Elvis Presley.
To what extent would you say you are responsible for BBC 6 Music still being on air?
I’m certainly not responsible at all for 6Music still being around, but I’d like to think I played a part in it staying put. The ‘Save 6Music’ Facebook group attracted 180,000+ members so it really was a strong base for everyone to do their bit, and many did thankfully.
How do you feel about so many organisations calling you ‘Marketer of the Year?’
It was very flattering at the time and I have to admit to enjoying quite a few awards ceremonies and bubbly, but I came to realise that awards are all very well but don’t actually put food on the table or pay the mortgage.
Any new music recommendations for us?
Blast Unit Moscow, a Russian band, are currently getting a lot of hits to my headphones…plus the return of the brilliant band Magistrates has whipped me up into musical heaven. Go check those bands out…cracking stuff!