We have all, at one point in our lives or another, spent a little money on overpromoting ourselves. It might be buying the more expensive wine in a bar in order to impress one’s date, for example, or taking a contract on a top-of-the-range phone because it feels good. Jered Threatin, it seems, has taken this feeling to something of an extreme.
Jered Threatin is a real person; of that, there is no doubt. Threatin's album, Breaking the World, is available on Amazon and has an impressive blurb:
Make no mistake, fans are ready and waiting to buy this album. Threatin has proven to be one of the most promising rock artists of the last decade. (...) Threatin toured relentlessly in the United States, Canada, and Europe to build a strong fan base across the globe.
This is clearly backed up by Threatin’s fan base on Facebook which, at the time of writing, has exceeded 36,000 followers.
All good so far. Let’s look at the video for Threatin’s single, Living is Dying.
The video looks... well, it doesn’t look expensive. Threatin doesn’t appear to have been signed by any of the major metal labels like Nuclear Blast or Earache, so that’s understandable.
And, that’s where things start to fall apart. Notice that Jered Threatin is perhaps the first artist since Prince to play all of his own instruments. Let’s delve a little deeper, and check out the Google juice for Threatin’s label, Superlative. The image results suggest that even though there’s a bunch of bands on the company’s homepage, all of the images relate to Threatin. Either there’s something going on here, or the other acts are so awful that the label refuses to market them.
So, to the press releases. The index of PR agency Magnified Media lists three, all of which relate to... Threatin. Again, this is either a super-keen agency, or they’re not doing their job properly.
Threatin recently announced a European tour. Let’s check in to see how that’s going - over to the Bristol Exchange, who posted the following to their Facebook page:
We recently ran a Community ownership campaign where we discussed many threats that music venues face. This week we have had to add a new one to the list, welcome to the curious story of Threatin.
On Tuesday night Stage Right Bookings hired the venue to put on U.S. Hard Rock outfit Threatin. The tour hit a number of recognised venues across the UK including The Underworld, Ivory Blacks, Asylum and Rebllion. On the face of it Threatin were a successful band with a Record Label, PR Company, Promo videos and a strong social media following. We regularly ask promoters for ticket updates and were told 180 advance tickets had been sold.
Fast forward to the night and there is no sign of the promoter. The singer tells us that she is not here and in Hollywood. This means we don't have a ticket list and the venue hire hasn't been paid. The singer and Tour Manager aren't here at the time we open doors, so we just have to wing it, only an hour after doors not one ticket holder has turned up. We can't reach the promoter to discuss.
When they arrive back at the venue we explain that without the hire fee we are unable to continue with the gig as we are racking up costs by just being open. The singer and TM walk off in a huff and return with the full hire fee. At this point there are only a couple of guests that the support bands have brought in the venue. Eventually Threatin hit the stage, and instead of playing to expected crowd of 180, they play to the Sound Engineer, the TM and two members of the support band who feel sorry for them.
At this point we immediately contact the Birmingham and Manchester venues to make them aware of what has happened, and they inform us that Stage Right Bookings are the promoters for their event as well, and they have also been told that around 200 tickets have been sold. Upon challenging them, the Manchester venue are told that the reason Bristol was a bad show was because 'the venue hadn't promoted the gig properly' (this would be the promoter's job) and that 'the tickets updates we sent were just estimates'.
In all fairness we can understand that it's easy to get confused between 180 sales and 0.
Fast forward one day and one of our members of staff posts about the experience on Facebook and the internet loves it. With hundreds of people investigating this matter we soon find out that:
1. All the other venues had the same experience
2. The 38,000 likes the band have on Facebook are 'bought' likes
3. The people attending the events on Facebook are also 'bought'
4. The U.S. Tour the band played didn't actually happen (although it would have been difficult to play 60 dates in 13 days)
5. The music videos are using stock footage cleverly obscured by logos and green screen.
6. All of the other bands on Threatin's record label don't seem to actually exist.
7. All of the people who post comments to Threatin's instagram are accounts with absolutely no other activity
8. 26 people listened to Threatin in the last month on Spotify
9. The domain names for the band, promoter, PR company and Record Label are all owned by the same person.
In short, one of the strangest things to have ever happened to us.
Although funny, it's worth pointing out that venue hires themselves don't cover all of the costs of opening, especially when you put on enough staff and security to deal with 180 people. On top of that the equipment hire company and support bands walked away having not been paid.Bristol Exchange
The upshot is that, according to the report on Sick Chirpse, Jared Threatin has paid a five-figure sum to promote himself, through paid fans on YouTube and Facebook, in order to play at some of the more well-known metal and indie venues across Europe, only to then play to an empty hall and thus piss the venue owners off in the process, who have put money and people up in order to anticipate a demand that doesn’t actually exist.
Such was the commitment of the Belfast Empire that, when this story was picked up by the BBC, Threatin subsequently cancelled the date and the Empire opened for free anyway and the support acts played to a decent crowd who had heard about the story. Rebellion Manchester was another venue that offered free entry, with an audience of... (counts) 3.
Is it a scam? Maybe. Is it an elaborately-engineered project? Most definitely. It’s pretty simple “If it’s on the Internet then it must be true” stuff in terms of the quality and content of messaging. However, to the untrained eye, it absolutely looks legit, and of course venues are always on the lookout for the next big thing before they become famous. It’s an absolutely extraordinary story, which perhaps tells us as much about the ease as to the “On the Internet, no-one knows that you’re a dog” rule still rings true as to the single-minded, laser-guided focus of Jered Threatin himself, and his ability to spend so much time and effort to create a halo effect that seemed, on the face of it, so plausible.
If you want to see Threatin (and who wouldn’t?) then he is still listed as playing the Druso club in Bergamo. Le Klub in Paris and Café Central in Weinheim, who were also on Threatin’s venue list, no longer carry the band in their listings. If you can get to Bergamo this week then, one way or another, you might be in for a treat.