The recent promotional campaign featuring Atlanta pop-rock quintet Cartel has evoked a furious debate between the group and notable industry figure Bob Lefsetz.

Bob posted a lengthy piece titled "Marketing Run Amok" in his widely read column The Lefsetz Letter condemning the bands decision, saying:
"Ever heard of Cartel? Not me. But I'm sure they can't be making music I'm interested in. Music comes from inspiration, not marketing plans. Whoever convinced the act to be involved in this stunt.. should be exiled from the business immediately...

Better yet, Cartel still has time to back out of this misguided stunt. Rather than become the David Blaines of music (and it's not like Mr. Blaine gets any respect from magicians), Cartel can only save itself by issuing a press release REBELLING against such crap. Would the Sex Pistols listen to their label? Would they be playing it safe? Would they be tools of the marketing machine? Certainly not when they mattered, back in '76.

[After] you create your music, you don't sell it with stunts. Stunts are how you get the old wave media to pay attention. Now you've just got to put your stuff up on the Web... you've got to let the public do the marketing. It's cheaper, and if you gain momentum, it LASTS!"

To which the band's frontman Will Pugh responded with a letter of his own. Pugh argues:

Of course this is a marketing ploy and a huge one at that. There's not one person who reads about this fan or not that isn't going to see this as a stunt. [...] The big point is that people who have never heard of us are hearing about us now. [...] All you guys think we're just another dickless band with mediocre songs without even giving us a chance. Fuck selling records if that's what you think this is all about.

I'm sick of all the ninnies running around acting like they know anything about what it takes to create music. To all of them and you I ask......where's your albums?

Bob posted a response in a later column.

Both sides certainly raise interesting questions; in a crowded, cutthroat music industry, is it worthwhile to engage in these kinds of campaigns to give your band a chance? Furthermore, Cartel has never presented itself as Fugazi or anything other than a mainstream-friendly act. Should they be held to a higher standard than non-rock acts which routinely - and conspicuously - spend their time promoting everything from jewelry to McDonald's?

As originally reported, the band will be recording their next album in a giant transparent bubble on Pier 54 in New York City.

Bands in this story