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Puppets on a string? The reality of pop marketing


Posted on March 27th, by admin in Our views. No Comments

It’s interesting to hear the views of 1960s pop star Sandie Shaw, who this week told a government committee that it’s easier for musicians from privileged backgrounds to prosper in today’s music industry.

Of course there are many cases of working-class musicians who have made it (and continue to make it) in the competitive world of pop. Adele and Dizzee Rascal, for example, show us that great talent knows no barriers.

But it’s certainly true that launching a successful music career now requires a great deal of marketing, PR and funding.

And it works. Stars can get thrust from obscurity into the limelight in the flick of a switch. For example not many people had heard of Emeli Sande before she starred at the Olympics Opening Ceremony last July. Less than seven months later she managed to pick up the Brit Award for Best British Female. A household name.

Sadly though, the reverse is also true. Many acts hit our charts for a brief burst of stardom before fading away into obscurity when the new wave takes them over. Just witness the hardships faced by the 1990s pop groups currently starring in ITV2’s The Big Reunion – will anyone tell their children about the night they saw a gig by 5ive, B*Witched, or The Honeyz?

You might say this is a sad reflection on the state of a transient and manipulative industry. After all, until the recent industry-driven 1980s ‘revival’ convinced us all that the 80s weren’t actually one of the worst-ever decades for music, did anybody really expect to see Spandau Ballet on stage together again? Really?

Is the music industry any different to any other? Probably not. What you have to remember is that these groups are not the ones making the money – it’s Simon Cowell and his fellow music moguls who are reaping the benefits.

They groups themselves are the equivalent of products, or services – each with their own PR and marketing campaign which runs for a couple of years until a shinier (younger) and more exciting sales opportunity comes along.

So it’s no surprise that the pop industry churns along, fuelled by funding and PR campaigns. Just like in any industry, it’s a competitive world out there.

 – Rupert Janisch, account executive, Forsyth Websper





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