Will Lady Gaga End The Music Business? (Again…)
Lady Gaga isn't holding back, her new record is coming out and she wants everyone to know. With the fastest selling number one in iTunes history, and her new video amping up hits on Vevo, it seems an unstoppable force.
Well to me it stinks of everything that was bad about the old industry and continues that predisposed self-destructive bent. You remember the one that imploded when CD's didn't sell anymore. It's akin to an alcoholic insisting they don't have a problem.
If Gaga doesn't sell or live up to the hype, then the party is gonna crash again, big time.
THE BIG PARTY
The majors were used to the big lifestyle, the private jets, lavish luncheons, and bottomless expense accounts. Radio was bought. Tours were bought. TV was bought.
Once you have tasted that, it's hard to give it up. Lady Gaga seems like a relapse. That one final "epic bender" as Charlie Sheen would describe it. The one that ends in either death, or realization that it's time for a final stint in rehab and to clean up your act one last time.
It is the majors chance to ignore those chest pains and shortness of breath and brush it off as indigestion. Let's forget about the 44,000 sales, which made an independently released album by Cake number #1 and outsell everything else a major had to offer.
Let's forget Mumford and Sons, that throwback acoustic act from the UK on an independent, are pretty much matching the sales of Katy Perry.
Just give us one more line of Gaga to keep us up partying all night.
A BAD INFLUENCE
Gaga is the worse companion for bingeing executives. She embraces the 24/7 facade that the old industry relied upon. She's a star and she will do anything to remain a star. She wants to go to the Grammys in an egg, then let her. She wants to start her new video with an epic 80's style movie segment about her giving birth to a new race of people. Hell yeah give her the money.
Whereas tough times and foreign wars in past history gave birth to protest singers - bringing the voice of the people to the airwaves, the current economic climate and fall out of the Bush years gave birth to the aptly titled Fame Monster.
People didn't want to face reality, and so Gaga's glitz and glamour has been embraced, a chance to forget that reality and live the fantasy. Not just for the fans but for the industry too.
EVOLUTION / REVOLUTION
We are moving into interesting new times. True uprisings in Egypt and Libya, that were unthought of in the last decade, are now taking hold. It's evolution revolution. The will of the people can effect regime change and that is inspiring. It has even been echoed in the USA.
Where does Gaga's mantra fit with this? Well this is to me where the big problem is, it doesn't. While her fight for equality is to be commended, it does almost feel like a self-serving publicity stunt. Her main sell is that we can all be just like her, glamorous and famous in our own little monster way. The truth is that we can't, life isn't like that. We can't all be privileged kids that attend the same school as Paris Hilton. We can't luck out and be in that miniscule percentage, where everything falls into place resulting in hits, notoriety and sold out tours.
In the music industry, the people have already made their voice heard. They are finding new ways of listening to music and it doesn't always involve paying for it.
Gaga again has to be commended in her commitment to her fans, but the thing sustaining her fame is not her core fans, but the interest of those outside of the little monster circle. Trouble is she is danger of alienating with the majority, and in order to sustain her bombastic marketing approach she has to do exactly that.
Shock value gets you noticed, but it also puts a lot of people off.
Remember this is being run by the major mentality, which is to reap the most dividends out of something in a short amount of time. They were never interested in long-term goals and this is why they are suffering now. I can't help feeling they lucked out with Gaga. She was in the right place at the right time. And whereas there is always something anomalous to an artist's success, Gaga's window to achieve what she did, in the time that she did, seems far less to do with content than it is to do with circumstance.
In reality, it all comes down to the strength of the music. When the intro to Gaga's new video finally reaches the song, you know that part you actually listen too, does it not seem like a huge let down? The Madonna comparisons are obvious and somewhat irrelevant if people like it, but will their attention last.
When Oasis released their third album, Be Here Now in 1997 amidst outlandish media hype, it too became a fastest selling release in history. But the music didn't stand up and the album is regarded as a coked up, attention seeking, rock and roll binge, and one of their worst. The band never really recovered from the overblown marketing that, because it wasn't kept in check, became far bigger than what the record could offer.
DRUG OF CHOICE
Gaga's drug of choice seems to be fame, and the launch of her newest release seems to fuel the hunger for her addiction. Those working the record are happy to ply on the supplies; she's the life of the party after all. But what can a team so embroiled in the falsity of fame really offer normal people.
Hope soon vanishes when reality bashes you over the head for the umpteenth time. People soon become resentful of success when their own lives don't echo the timeshare they are being promised.
Those who have cleaned up and moved on and continue to work hard to build musical careers in the real world should be happy to know, that while it may be a struggle to keep forging forward, at least we are not going to wake up with the world's worst hangover.