When N*Sync said "bye, bye, bye" to the shackles of the greedy management that held them down, the world listened, and No Strings Attached went on to sell nearly 15 million copies. In a more indie-centric example, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah skipped the label process completely during their initial explosion, instead riding the internet tidal-wave that accompanied their self-titled debut. But the latter example just seems like so much work! Doesn't that take dedication, some sliver of uniqueness, real word-of-mouth, and even some skill? It is so much easier to just be content as the dummy while some dollar-brained "ventriloquist" sticks his hand up your backside, not only pulling the strings, but framing your lies, moving your mouth for you. After all, the bigwigs know exactly when and what the public will lap up like slobbering dogs eager for their next sip.
The Wall Street Journal has reported that the girl behind the latest YouTube explosion may not be as DIY as she once appeared. Marié Digby, whose cover of Rihanna's smash "Umbrella" has been featured on MTV, appeared just another viral multimedia meme with her grainy, homemade renditions of popular tunes. The press release for her "recent" signing to Disney's Hollywood Records even touted her as a "YouTube Phenomenon." But after a little bit of muckraking, it has been revealed that Digby was actually signed by Hollywood in 2005, a year-and-a-half before her videos hit big. Hollywood Records purchased Digby's computer and software and allowed her to leave her MySpace reading "Type of Label: None," all the while Digby was telling audiences "I just turned on my little iMovie, and here I am!" as per the WSJ.
The stunt is an arrogant attempt by the mainstream to co-opt and manipulate the ease and arbitrary nature of viral hype that the internet has beget with more and more frequency in recent years. With News Corp.'s purchase of MySpace and Google's purchase of YouTube, it is no secret that the corporate world sees the same contagiousness on the web that each site's respective users do. Unfortunately, they feel the need to undermine the entire system, slapping ads on every blank space and feigning struggle for their artists. But here's a thought: maybe if Disney put as much creativity directly into their projects as they do into their lies, they wouldn't have to rely on faking credibility or creating hype through devious means.