So, you have a band and you want to become instant celebrities? Very easy. Get a good publicist and be prepared to spend tons of money. Money is all it takes, my friend. In this age of information, anything can be bought, including Ė what else Ė information.
To build up your bandís image, you will need flattering magazine write-ups, fancy band videos, impressive press releases, massive airplay, and good looks, all of which, to some degree, can all be bought. In other words, all you need is deep pockets and a small army of press writers, video production experts, cooperative disc jockeys, fashion stylists, and maybe even plastic surgeons. But then again, who needs good looks if youíve got extreme looks. Marilyn Manson would probably agree.
Who needs a fancy real name when you can conjure one? Who needs credibility when you can invent one? Who needs to stumble on controversy when you can stage one? If you want to talk about talent, who needs to have it if you can buy it?
Songwriting talent? Who needs that when you can remake old songs? Certainly itís being done now, or havenít you noticed? You can have just a girl wearing heavy makeup stand as still as the microphone stand, singing along to an acoustic guitar accompaniment, and still come up with chart topping hits on video countdowns made up mostly of remakes anyway. Now donít get me wrong here. Remakes per se arenít shameful. It is remakes without any real artistic stamp by the interpreter that sucks. Music executives call it formula. I call it creative bankruptcy.
If you donít fancy remakes and you want some credibility to go with your manufactured attitude, you can hire ghostwriters and buy compositions. Certainly itís being done now, or havenít you noticed? You can have real musicians chop up killer hooks from popular tunes and sew them together to form an ďinspiredĒ song. Music executives can say it is standard practice. I say it is creative plagiarism.
In fact, who needs to chop and reassemble if you can just pick an obscure song from decades ago and simply replace the lyrics. Forget finesse. If die-hard music fans and purists notice, which they will, then youíll likely get a furor and a month of negative publicity which is publicity just the same. In this age of advanced commerce, some things can still be had for free. Certainly, it is happening now, or havenít you noticed?
Musicianship? Who needs that when you can hire session players to record your songs for you in the studio. Certainly, it is being done now, or that too you havenít noticed? Label executives can get impatient, what with their quarterly productivity reports and all, so if their newly signed artist canít get it done fast enough or good enough, why wait or why gamble? Call in the professionals and hand out the song sheets to record and the nondisclosure agreements to sign. Record executives think it is quick and convenient. I think it is quick and dirty. How can cheating be otherwise?
So how do you get your band to be famous? In the end, is it all about exposure? Probably. So the key then is to spend like hell and market your band like itís a war. If youíre worried about overexposure, donít be. You can always discard your old image and adopt a new one. We live in an age where reinvention has been elevated to an art form. Just like our shampoo commercials. They even have a new term for it Ė makeover.
To make a hit song, simply get your music heard again and again. I once heard this nasty theory that any song, any crappy song even, can become a hit if played regularly enough. Theory or not, labels seem to believe in its validity and so, as a matter of practice, aggressively push singles on radio playlists. The same practice extends to music channels and even print features. Not exactly reassuring for idealistic artists who want to make it on talent alone. Fairytales in music business still do happen mind you. But there still has to be the fairygodmother in a suit wielding not a magic wand but a hefty checkbook.
In the end, you need to have a backer or you need to back out. Or risk losing your shirt and your sanity. Such a dirty business showbiz is. Any undertaking where you stand to make money is bound to become corrupt naturally. Government and religion certainly arenít except, why should showbusiness be. Itís a dirty game and itís up to you how you play it. You can play to win or you can play for the sheer fun of it. But once you step in the field, donít expect to keep your socks clean.