what is fake?

In the comments on YouTube Phenom Has a Big Secret, Jay Fienberg said

The major labels have marketing strategies for breaking in new acts, that involve some form of making people think that they themselves have *discovered* someone new and cool–that they then can tell others about. The marketers know that they have to get a critical mass of people to feel that, so that the *discovery* spreads to a mass market, and doesn’t just remain the “secret” of a select few dedicated fans.

The marketers play a manipulative role (and, from my second-hand experience, I know that they can be really devious), but we, the people, tend to embrace that manipulation because, I think, it helps us maintain our social status. We need to affirm that we aren’t alone in the music we like, and that we like “cool” music, etc.

The thing is that the marketers don’t and can’t _create_ cool. What’s cool is obvious the instant you, the potential fan, hear it. And coolness always entails genuineness in one way or another.

At its best music marketing is a holistic act with fans, musicians and culture businesses bouncing references, new ideas and money back and forth to create a virtuous circle.  If the fans dig it, it’s not fake.

2 thoughts on “what is fake?

  1. Agreed. Very well said.

    Our kids are going to listen to and watch exactly what they want to, because they have unlimited spectrum and choice. That isn’t to say it isn’t going to be BAD by your definition and it isn’t to say it isn’t something that was marketed to them and isn’t to say they won’t listen to it just because their friends are, etc, but they will no longer do it just because it’s the only thing on. And that changes the game completely.


  2. This is a very good point. The advantages that labels had before was an enhanced ability to issue a marketing message, and a near-total control over the engines of distribution and radio play. Even operating under that hegemony, cool spontaneously appeared and sorted itself out. Now that neither hegemony is fully in place, cool will seep out everywhere, through these wonderful alternative marketing and distribution mechanisms.

    It’s amusing, too, that hardware manufacturers realized that digital downloads would give them a vested interest in downloadable product, so that the hi fi now dictates the availability of the LP, and not vice versa as in the old days.
    It’s not just hardware, either–it’s hard not to admire Starbucks for doing obvious, predictable greatest hits and respected artist deals that a less moribund record industry would have done on its own in a wiser era.

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