“I trust the music industry; they know what’s best for me and take my feelings into consideration,” said nobody, ever.
The music industry can be a dark, scary, cruel mistress. She will chew you up and spit you out, all just to get a few dollars towards that shiny new convertible. Need Proof? Milli Vanilli, need I say more?
The scandal of Milli Vanilli was an iconic moment in popular music history. This was when the music industry’s dubious and money-hungry motives were made clearly visible to the public eye, sending the people into an outrage.
The Milli Vanilli incident took place way back in time. Back in the days of acid wash jeans and hair that stood a quarter-mile high, cemented together with coats of hair spray so thick that mother earth herself shed a tear every time someone got ready for the day. I’m talking about the ’80s.
1989 to be exact. The iconic pop-music duo Milli Vanilli were at the top of their game, selling out stadiums and burning in through the airwaves like a wildfire. That is, until one pinnacle moment in front of 80,000 people in Bristol, Connecticut.
As the duo went on stage, singing and dancing, blowing minds with their ever-so-popular hit, Girl You Know It’s True (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RdSmokR0Enk), something when terribly wrong. Right after the first few words of the chorus, the lyrics began to repeat, only it wasn’t Milli Vanilli singing them.
They had been caught red-handed.
The two men were mere puppets, dancing and clapping on stage, pretending to sing.
Mind you, this was a different time. Back when musicians weren’t constantly auto-tuning, lip-synching, and using computers in the most creative ways possible. All to make themselves sound just like the album when they perform.
This was the beginning to the end for Milli Vanilli. The fan’s trust had been broken, and the record companies greed showed its nasty little face.
Arista Records had gone to great lengths to promote the two men as the face of Milli Vanilli. Without going through the trouble of finding two men with voices angelic enough to actually record. Speech specialists were hired to eliminate the duo’s accents. Interviews were skipped to hide the real voices of the two. All done in an attempt to bring in big money sales from us, the audience.
This is the truth about the music industry. It is an industry that will do anything in its power, which is a lot, to get its hands on our hard-earned cash.
I believe the music industry has even penetrated the general public’s thoughts so much that we have become its unpaid servants and martyrs. History has shown us instances of we, the people, changing our dialogue to match the music industry’s needs and values.
It has even gone so far that artists such as Prince and Radiohead have gone against the music industry tycoons’ values, only to receive public shaming.
In 2007, Radiohead, kings of alternative rock, put out their new album In Rainbows as a “pay what you will” release on their website. This allowed customers to pay as much money as they wanted for the album, not having a set price by the corporate fat-cats. A 2007 article was written by the English newspaper giant, The Guardian, titled, “Thanks, Radiohead, for making it even harder for new acts to survive.” This article shows how the people’s mind has been influenced to push music industry values.
Even the infamous Prince, the late posterchild of pop, has been scrutinized for going against the capitalist ways of the music industry’s henchmen. Ridiculed and mocked for giving away his 2007 album, Planet Earth, to the public, along with concert tickets.
Even when artists give away their music for free, our minds have been trained to believe these artists are actually hurting the multi-billion dollar music industry. Like, somehow, these moves will make the record labels less likely to pour millions of dollars into promoting just one artist. Well, I hate to break it to you, but this is just not the case.
There will always be horrific amounts of money to carry the music industry forward. It’s a scary game of Saw being played on us, and you’ve got to be smart to survive.
So, next time you hear a song you like, think twice about the record label behind it. For they may have promoted it to the point where the artist is no longer the creator.