Nervous are getting a lot of publicity at the moment. The various interviews – and given this is the dance music press we’re talking about, I use the term in the loosest possible sense – pose questions about how did they choose remixers for their bumper 30th anniversary package, a bit about the history of the label and so on.
They even managed to get free publicity courtesy of the BBC – and even though they’re funded by the British public through the licence fee, the questions there were just as supine. Not one media organisation decided, whilst talking to label boss Michael Weiss, to ask him about his record label’s advertising strategy online.
That strategy – and this word is also used very loosely – appears to be to use pictures of ladies wearing next to no clothes and even when they are, the clothes usually have little to no link to the label. Such as this one which appeared on the Nervous Records’ Instagram account yesterday…
I still find it incredibly strange that The Blessed Madonna – normally so outspoken and taking no prisoners – dropped her feminist credentials and refused to question him about it. But one question which remains unanswered at the moment is, who is actually responsible for advertising over at Nervous?
A source in New York reliably informs me that Weiss is not responsible. Other than that, it’s a little unclear at the moment who is. Nervous aren’t saying…
There’s a separation to be made between the feminist movement and certain modern day feminists. And whilst I think feminism is a good thing – who could seriously argue that women having the same rights as men is a bad thing? – I think some of the modern day feminists have some terrible blind spots in their vision.
Such as The Blessed Madonna, as she now calls herself. The woman behind the pseudonym, Marea Stamper, proudly proclaims her feminist credentials. Which is something this blog has absolutely no problem with – until one of the aforementioned blind spots suddenly makes an appearance.
The sexist, outdated advertising at Nervous Records – which includes a lady who models a T-shirt without wearing it and bizarre shots of a scantily clad woman with a pig – has been documented here for the past few months. Publicly, Nervous are staying silent in the face of criticism – although I gather things aren’t quite so united behind the scenes.
In the meantime, Stamper used her platform on the BBC radio station 6Music to do a one-hour show celebrating the 30th anniversary of the label. The show plays a selection of releases from the archive, alongside an interview with label founder and boss Michael Weiss.
Doesn’t the – to use a very modern term – problematic advertising at Nervous Records make Stamper feel uncomfortable? You don’t have to be a bra burning feminist to realise this. Although it does appear you need the ability to blank out this awkward fact for at least one hour whilst talking to the label boss…
I remember pretty much every episode from Channel 4’s legendary comedy series Father Ted. But one episode that I remember more than most is “Rock A Hula Ted”. In it, the main protagonist Father Ted Crilly is asked to be a judge for the Lovely Girls competition – anyone from Ireland will probably know this is a parody of the Rose of Tralee, another competition frequently accused of being outdated and sexist.
I’m guessing that one of the other judges, sadly never shown on camera, was Mike Weiss. He’s the man in charge of Nervous Records and recently, his label went back to the tacky, 1970s style advertising they flirted with heavily earlier this year. To the best of my knowledge, no other major dance music label advertised its products – be they music or merchandise – in this manner, and haven’t for many years. In dance music terms, he’s an outlier in this regard.
And we can now see with Nervous’s latest advertising campaign that these ghastly campaigns are well and truly back in vogue with the label’s management…
Classy indeed. Over the past few months, we’ve seen there are few depths Weiss and his label will not stoop to. Releases, T-shirts, face masks – anything they had to sell was advertised for months alongside a totally inappropriately dressed lady. And despite their own followers increasingly calling them out, Nervous flat out refuse to explain or defend themselves.
These days, Nervous Records make much of their range of merchandise. Given that records don’t sell in the way they once used to, this is hardly the surprise of the century. But you might be interested to note how their stuff has changed over the years.
These days, Nervous are into advertising blue T-shirts which are not being worn by the model in the photo – for some reason, she’s parading her backside in the lead photo whilst wearing next to nothing. And on January 23rd this year, they were flogging sun visors on their social media platforms. On that day in their native New York, there were daytime temperatures of 2°C and -4°C during the night…
Still, there was a time when the label could give people things which were actually useful. Back in 1996 at what was then called the Miami Music Conference, Nervous were giving out sachets of branded suntan lotion. And just in case you think I’m making this up, here’s something which appeared in the June 1996 issue of Muzik Magazine about it…
Sadly, the identity of the “unidentified music biz bod” referred to in the article remains a mystery.
It was bound to happen at some point, wasn’t it? After the pandemic started and then again early in 2021, the social media content of Nervous Records took a notable turn. With club nights obviously not happening at the time, the Instagram page in particular started promoting their merchandise range quite heavily. And the campaigns in question were particularly 1970s in nature.
This blog has written about this a few times in the past – and they were highly prevalent until around the middle of May. Conveniently enough, this was the time that clubs in New York, where Nervous are based, reopened. At this point, the somewhat objectionable adverts disappeared almost altogether.
I knew this wouldn’t last forever. Indeed, a rumour arrived in my inbox last week saying new photos had been taken and would be published on their socials soon. I didn’t publish because I couldn’t find anything to back up the claim. Maybe I should have just published anyway, because here they are…
Nervous is a label with a long history. 30 years of history, in fact. The label was founded in New York in 1991 and was an early home to Mood II Swing, Armand Van Helden, Josh Wink, Frankie Feliciano and countless others. And most labels from the 90s have long disappeared, so I can understand Nervous wanting to celebrate their triumph.
Hence the release of a four vinyl album, showcasing what the label has done in the past alongside some newer remixes of past glories. And from the start, you can tell this is going to be a disappointment, with Louie Vega and Josh Milan’s mix of “Hot” by Willie Ninja not being a patch on Louie’s 1994 mixes, with his original Because I’m Hot Mix being the best of the lot.
The album goes into deeper territory next, with Radio Slave remixing the 2008 Ralph Falcon song “Break You” – who turns out a dull interpretation that screams business techno and tech-house. Dr Packer, Kevin McKay and Franky Rizardo complete the rubbish lineup of hopelessly sub-par remixes that offer nothing new to the often classic originals.
You almost get the feeling this release was basically put together after label boss Mike Weiss got everyone together and they discussed how they could make the maximum amount of money possible, and stuff the integrity of the original releases. In other words, this was treated as a cash cow than a serious attempt to acknowledge and celebrate their legacy.
The last time I wrote about Nervous Records and their rather dubious 1970s style of advertising, they had possibly the most risqué post yet. And I pulled no punches in my criticism at the time.
Since then, those posts seem to have disappeared from the Nervous feeds. They haven’t appeared in any posts for over the past fortnight, nor can they be seen on their stories across all platforms. Recent material has focused largely on new releases and nights out – after New York removed all restrictions on the opening of nightclubs in the city – but only if you’ve had your jabs.
So, what’s going on? A source tells me “The truth is that Mike [Weiss, the man who runs Nervous] hasn’t been happy with these ads for a while. There were other people around him pushing to keep them in place. Now that clubland’s open again, he’s used that as a cover to start phasing them out.”.
Only time will tell how successful Weiss will be in that mission…
There was a time, long ago, that Nervous Records was a byword for quality. You knew that you had a high quality production in your hands whenever you had one of their records. Legendary singers like Kimara Lovelace, Kim English and Byron Stingily have all appeared.
The label was also known for being brave and taking risks. It released many early records from Armand Van Helden, Frankie Feliciano, Josh Wink and many others. This was a label prepared to put its money where its mouth was.
Such a shame that, according to an insider who has worked with the label, things are no longer like this. A source emailed me to tell me “the problematic ads that Nervous run are a symptom of a wider issue. And that wider issue is that Mike Weiss [the man who runs Nervous] is a cheapskate. He won’t spend money on decent adverts, hence the label runs s**t like this instead”.
The fact that Nervous never defend themselves against these accusations has not gone unnoticed…