Perhaps I'm just an idealist.
There are many good and bad things about these systems of tubes we call the internets. The list of bad things goes on and on (Ron Paul, kiddie porn, the fact that companies make you visit their websites to report problems rather than let you talk to someone), but he list of positives would take up many many hours of typing.
One of the things I find most charming about the internet is how it provides equal access for people. Anyone can write a blog and get it read, anyone can accidently upload naked pictures of themselves and get themselves fired from Disney. Anyone can make a video and have it seen by millions of people around the world. OK Go is a great example of that. They make one funny music video, people watched it and liked it, and now they are getting name checked by Common on his new album.
Inevitably someone is going to try and exploit this idea of the Everyman making it big. It happened once with the YouTube videos for lonelygirl15. When it turned out she was fictional, a product of filmmakers trying to parasitically feed off of the cultural zeitgeist, people turned against her and them.
It's happened again. A singer named Marie Digby has been posting videos of her playing cover songs on her guitar in her living room. The way the story goes is that the videos came out, people began watching them religiously, she got on song on the TV show The Hills, scored a spot on Carson Daly's show, radio airplay, and finally she got a record deal with Hollywood Records.
A complete lie.
According to an article in the Wall Street Journal, it was all cooked up by Hollywood Records executives. Apparently she was signed with them back in 2005, 18 months before she began appearing on YouTube. Carson Daly and radio DJ's introduced her music by saying 'they just sort of found her on the internet,' which was a complete lie, because she was booked on those shows by Hollywood Records. Her MySpace page claimed she was unsigned (it's now been updated to say 'major' label).
Why does this bother me? Marketing has always tried to hitch on to whatever trend was popular at the moment, and this wasn't the first time an artist has misrepresented themselves for publicity. I think what gets me about it is not only the fact that she was lying and her company was lying, but others participated in this.
I don't view Carson Daly as any bedrock of integrity, certainly. But he chose to make a flat out false statement on his show, one that as a producer on his show (and someone who, believe it or not, actually knows a bit about music) absolutely knew to be false. I find that reprehensible, to help further propagate this marketing campaign that that Hollywood Records has started.
Again, I'm aware that this is a pretty small problem in the grand scheme of things, but how would you feel is you found out that something you enjoyed for its intimacy and amateurishness turned out to be nothing more than a product? I'd feel pretty cheated.
Before I sat down to write this, I watched a couple of videos by Marie Digby. Her song choices are pretty lame (Hollywood Records had a plan that she would sing cover songs so people would find them while searching for the real song), but she has a nice voice and she's very easy on the eyes. Maybe she'll become a star, who knows?
I won't be listening.