Sunday, October 31, 2010

Do Hits Equal Success?

     The Sudanese-born/Australian rapper Bangs isn't shy about his intentions. The titles of his two hit singles, "Take U To Da Movies" and "Meet Me On Facebook" tell his audience that, well, he wants to take them to the movies and chat with them on facebook. As evidenced in his music videos below, his lackluster lyrics and subpar video effect skills don't combine to make a rapper that you would expect to have just received a record deal in Australia! Now I am in no way trying to cut Bangs down as a person, as I'm glad he is following his dreams and working to create his own success. My belief is that his musical ability is lacking in terms of what a record label should be willing to invest their money with the hopes of future success. Is Bangs the one to blame for garnering this record deal, or is he just another example of the changing strategies withing the music industry?

    We talked in class about how Chapter 4 of the textbook describes the way in which movie producers and record executives rely on their biggest stars to create successful hits. This book was written in 2003, however, before the arrival of Youtube, which has made it simple for anyone with a videocamera to upload a video of their talents (however poor they may be) to the web. If a video gets a lot of hits and views, its appeal can reach across all corners of the globe and make that person an instant celebrity. In Bangs' case, as well as others, a record company believed that the broad "success" of the Youtube video would equate to monetary success with the help of a record contract.
     This example is a true representation about the way in which media industries have focused on capitalizing on current success as opposed to building up artists for prolonged careers. Just about anyone can get a record deal because these corporations want the immediate capital gains from an artist that may have a million views on Youtube or 10,000 fans on Facebook, but lacks the true talent or staying power they need to be successful a year from now. D4L had girls shaking their laffy taffy and the Shop Boyz partied like rockstars. What do they have in common? They both lasted about 15 minutes and nobody knows who they are anymore.
     It will be interesting to see how, with the continuous influence of social media, media industries will act towards their investments in artists. Will they continue to promote artists that might sell at a high level for a short period of time, or will they revert back to strategies that create and build future stars?


  1. Right on, Kendall!

    I think that the record companies will look to other cross-media successes like "$h*! My Dad Says" coming from a Twitter account ( and keep on trying to create short-term successes. Even if they fail with most, there development costs relative to the fan bases are minimal and they'll get the few mega-hits needed to justify their business models. After all, from a supply standpoint, Top 40 radio still has to put *something* in heavy rotation.

    On a side note: it's too bad that they had the patience to develop long-term plans for worthy stars in much the same way that it's too bad that they also failed to figure out a way to make money with Napster, Bit Torrent and the other pirate sites instead of suing them. Rather than recognizing a scalable, near-zero cost distribution network for their content, all is they could see is a threat, much the same way that radio was a threat to sheet music, cassettes to vinyl, DVDs to movies and on and on. As it is, by marketing crap (I mean, underdeveloped talent) like Bangs, the recording industry creates product that is worth what pirates are willing to pay for it: zero.

  2. I liked this post because I believe that websites like youtube and other sites where anyone can publish videos on the web is diluting the amount of quality videos and music that we have. Raidos are no longer playing songs with meaningful lyrics or songs that are trying to send or a message or tell a story, rather they are looking for songs with catchy hooks and that are easy to follow along with so that it will gain popularity and become successful.

    Some peopl argue that hip hop is dead (Nas created a CD and a song dedicated to this idea) and I happen to agree with it. I think that meaningful lyrisits are no longer getting the popularity or the air time they deserve. It is kind of sad to think that all you hear on radio stations are songs about making money, girls, guns and violence. Hopefully things will be able to change and turn around but there are no signs that it will happen anytime soon.

  3. This is very true. The growing popularity of auto-tune contributes to this as well and allows "singers" like Ke$ha to have hits. It really is a shame. Although I did really enjoy one of the first hits like this.... William Hung.

    "She bang. She bang. Oh baby. When she move. She move. I go crazy cuz she look like a flower but she sting like a bee. Like every girl in history."

  4. This post was right on point in terms of the music industry's skewed view of success. But at the same time, it is not all big music's fault. We as viewers love to show our friends the ridiculous videos and post it on someone's Facecbook wall. I think the music industry is simply keeping up with the times. While they are following a skewed philosophy on success, at the end of the day they are giving people what they want, and as long as we want girls pooping in cups and babies biting hands, we will continue to get it.