No Shoe-Strings Attached, Unless They’re Converse
No one cares what record label paid for an album. Fans are oblivious to whether EMI, Warner Music Group, or Sony Music had their hands on it. The day is coming when fans might have to care. Converse plans to build a recording studio called Rubber Tracks in New York City. Bands will be able to apply online and those regarded as enthusiastic and disadvantaged enough will be granted the opportunity to record their album, for free, in the new studio space. Artists keep the ownership rights to their music. Converse says they won't sway the creative direction of the music.
Is this a dream come true for artists or a nightmare in the making?
If an artist wanted to get signed by a major record label or, at least, attract the interest of an indie, they might not change their sound necessarily. But they'd still make the main product—the group—more appealing to their target.
What compromises does an artist undertake to charm Converse? How do they increase the chances of a corporation taking interest in their music?
Corporations have always wanted to integrate themselves with youth culture.
Now, instead of having an indie song played in their commercials, they're paying for the production of the song itself. Brands used to just plaster their names around anything they wanted to associate themselves with. Anything to get teens to think of their products as more hip and representative of their generation.
Converse has always been a part of music, in some fashion; Kurt Cobain wore them and so did the Ramones. They didn't, however, purchase them at Target.
Will fans of up-and-coming bands be more sensitized to the idea that the group wears Converse shoes because they're still grateful that the company provided free studio time for their last record? Or, will they be unable to differentiate between personal taste and corporate intrusion into the cultural sphere?
Fans buy the shoes to identify with the artist who is really paying homage to a corporation. The whole point. Converse takes on a new life; it intertwines with not only with youth culture, but youth and culture. Artists, those usually distrustful of corporations, are increasingly left to rely on whoever will pay the bills. Is this a new ally of the artist or the beginging of the degration of music as we know it?