There’s been a lot of talk on music fan message boards lately about the ‘industrial factory’ idea. This is an accusation, leveled in certain breakout musicians, that they have been fabricated by the industry itself. Originating in the rap world, the idea is that if a new artist is suddenly everywhere, a label is secretly manipulating this in the background. An excellent band that I am so happy to work with was recently accused of that. For good reason, I won’t name them here, although a simple internet discovery will reveal it all.

In my experience, mostly female artists are called industrial plants. This is because it is essentially a term for internet trolls, and there is a large overlap in Venn diagrams between people who post negative comments on the internet and misogynists. The same can apply to angry keyboard warriors and failed musicians. Impeded creativity can quickly turn dark. It can’t be a question of quality – it has to be something to do with ‘game.’

This idea is a fallacy. The first question that comes to mind is this: If ‘industrial factories’ can be created, why doesn’t industry do it more often? If labels could boost on-demand advertising, then trust me, it would be at the top of our to-do lists on a daily basis. It will save a lot of money spent on streaming departments, PR, radio plug-ins, digital marketers, and dozens of hard-working employees.

Allegations have been made against artists such as Santigold and Lady Gaga, who both wrote for others before becoming performers. Most of us would recognize this as simple career growth, thanks to hard work and experience. No one can claim that an assistant retail manager turned boss was somehow installed by mysterious forces. The same applies to artists who have tried different styles, formations, and personalities. Have you ever heard of perfection through failure?

More recently accused are former child stars like Olivia Rodrigo and overnight romances like Billie Eilish. Having a ready cast of stars or great new songs that the labels want to join doesn’t make you a plant, though.

The closest examples I’ve seen involve carefully planned launches given organic facades. Lily Allen is said to have gone ‘bankrupt’ on MySpace, despite being contracted as her major label uses the new platform as a tool. For most of us, that’s just smart marketing – if incredulous -.

There’s a tricky side to the music business: wealth, relationships, and nepotism all play a part. Overall, they provide access to the industry and increase the chances of success. From there, it all belongs to the public. You can’t get everyone to like something, and even the greatest Svengali can’t polish the proverb.

If an artist is nowhere to be found, that usually means a label has done its job. It’s more than simply starting an action with an ‘audience’ and increasing streaming sales. Damn, it might even have done some development.

I’m intrigued by the influence certain internet warriors have on certain internet warriors’ credit labels – as if they could simply deploy their shadow networks and curate massive playlist results across the web. radio and streaming, media coverage and fan demand. All of this is won (far, often not) through blood, sweat, and tears. The only exception is when you sign someone really cool. Sometimes a simple and quick companion artist attracts a lot of people. Billie Eilish is an excellent example.

And that is what should give all those who love music faith. If an artist creates something absolutely brilliant – with all the wisdom, spirit, timing, and weirdness that the word implies – and publishes it to the world, people will take notice. I saw it happen recently, and it was amazing. The point is it’s easier said than done.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here