Soft-selling Mayer

MIKE BELL

, Last Updated: 11:31 PM ET

In music, the soft sell is back.

Look at the success of recent artists such as Pete Yorn, Five for Fighting and now, with his CD Room For Squares, Atlanta-based singer-songwriter John Mayer.

Each act has benefited from a groundswell that began quietly, and through word-of-mouth, critical acclaim and constant touring, reached a respectable level.

"I'm really proud of that because it's really easy right now to force your product on anybody," says Mayer, who's in town tonight for a sold-out show at The Whiskey. "I think that people might be enjoying the refreshing aspect of finding my record as opposed to my record finding them in their house ...

"It's really nice that people feel like it's that one record that fell out of the sky."

Since each of the three aforementioned acts is on one record label, Sony, I guess the question is, is the soft sell just as calculated as the hard sell?

"It very well may be, but not to me," Mayer says.

"All I know is that for me, I feel like the work that I do and the work that people hear and the way they hear it, the buffer between those is very small."

And whether or not the marketing behind it is genuine, the music certainly is.

Room For Squares is chock full of honest pop rock songs about real emotions, which has drawn comparisons to artists such as Dave Matthews and Ben Folds.

Although it's his second CD -- he released an indie album in '99 -- Mayer considers Room the true beginning of his career.

It's a beginning he's looking forward to topping.

"It's going to keep me chasing my own tail -- in a good way," he says.


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