Image Vs Talent In Music Marketing And Success

1753 words - 7 pages

Pop music has long been defined by “idols” and superstars that are subjects of high levels of adoration from severely devoted fans, whose love of these superstars often blurs the line between fandom and obsession. This love is mainly based off of physical looks and charm more often than actual musical talent, as majority of the songs written by these massive superstars are not written by the artists themselves, instead by people hired to write for these artists in a way that will best connect with a crowd willing to spend their money on these manufactured stars. Therefore, it has become evident that in the world of popular music, image has overtaken talent as the determining factor of success in the industry. Instead of skill and songwriting ability, good looks and the ability to draw large crowds of impressionable people have become the main factors of fame in music.
The first main example of physical image becoming a major marketing point in the music industry lies in the career of Elvis Aaron Presley. His image was the building point of his reputation, as he represented the first major example of a sex symbol in music. Presley has been described as a “sex god”, which inspired other artists to emulate him in the future and use sex to sell their music. (Long, “Elvis the Sex God”, Vox Magazine) and various television and music executives described how visually captivating his performances were. Although Presley had undeniable talent, his talent was not the only selling point that his handlers used to market him to the public, which was quite a departure from the classical and jazz eras, where musical skill was the prominent issue in determining the popularity of musicians such as Beethoven, Louis Armstrong, and Duke Ellington. Lester Bangs, a famed music critic, described Elvis as "the man who brought overt blatant vulgar sexual frenzy to the popular arts in America." (Rodman, Elvis after Elvis: The Posthumous Career of a Living Legend). Also, there were claims that on Elvis’s appearances on the Ed Sullivan Show, a talk show that aided heavily in Elvis’s musical career and rise to superstardom, that the singer used a Coca-Cola bottle in order to make himself appear more well-endowed in the groin area, which is an area used heavily to signify male sexuality and appeal to the female crowd (Garber, Vested Interests: Cross Dressing & Cultural Anxiety). Whether or not these claims are true, the fact that this was a claim made only accentuates the fact that Elvis’s sexual image and affect on female fans was exploited in several ways to gain popularity and money, something that has continued to this day in the corporate music industry.
Following the success of Elvis, the music industry then came up with the concept of a “boy band”, which became the term used to describe bands such as The Beach Boys and The Beatles, who grew from image, much like Elvis did in his prime. While both of these bands are now hailed as pioneering forces in the progression...

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