The music industry is a tough one to break into, and many people never have the opportunity to make it. There are so many struggling musicians out there that never get their big break. Sometimes, it’s who you know in the business that can get you places, other times you get lucky like Justin Bieber did with his YouTube video success. Not only is the music industry tough to get into but even when you’re on the inside, it doesn’t get much easier. It may look like a wonderful place from the outside, a world of luxury cars and sold out concerts but there are lots of secrets behind the scenes. The things that go on behind the scenes are far less entertaining than what people in the music industry want you to believe.
Things are different in the music world than they used to be. Back in the day, artists depended mostly on record sales and when they were signed to a record label they received huge cash advances that got them through until their royalties started kicking in. These days, because of the digital era, album sales aren’t what they used to be because most people are downloading music off of pirated sites. The music industry has to take things up a notch and find new ways of promoting their stars. That means their stars are put through the hoops in order to perform in the way that brings in more sales. The music industry is more cutthroat than ever before because at the end of the day making money is always the top priority.
15. Record Companies Are Paying off DJ’s
It’s not surprising to think that the music you hear on the radio station is put there by the powers that be. Is it that way I end up listening to Taylor Swift on repeat for ten straight hours? Or is it simply that she is popular and it’s the fans begging the stations to play her songs? Allegedly record companies are bribing the radio stations so that their artists will get more air time. It’s an illegal practice, but that doesn’t mean it’s not being done behind the scenes. There are plenty of music executives that are desperate to get their new artists on the radio so they can get things moving when it comes to them getting to the top of the charts. Oiling the gears with a little money certainly isn’t a practice that is unheard of, and it wouldn’t be the first time something like that has happened.
14. Fights Between Celebrities Are Often Staged
We see all the time how artists in the music industry are often pitted against one another. There is Kanye and Taylor Swift, and it almost seems like Nicki Minaj hates just about everyone. We assume these people have some serious beef with one another, but most often these “fights” between music artists are set up for publicity reasons. With the digital age the way it is now, all it takes is a little spat to be put on social media and all of a sudden it’s got a life of its own. The next thing you know a celebrity that hasn’t had some air time recently is being talked about and sales start pouring in all over again. It’s not to say that some of those spats are real but how many do you think are fake just for the sake of publicity? Chances are these celebrities don’t hate each other as much as they want us to believe.
13. Toni Braxton Abandoned Her Family
There’s no denying what a hot commodity it was for music producers to sign Toni Braxton. She has a voice that can melt any heart and the kind of beauty that music execs take a collective sigh over. She would be an easy sell to the world, and her fan base would be easy to grow. What you may not know is that Toni Braxton auditioned with her four sisters; they were hoping to be a team or at least get signed individually. Producers weren’t interested in anyone but Toni however and the other sisters were sent away. Toni didn’t want to lose her opportunity, so she took the offer they gave her and went home happy. That happiness didn’t last however as her mother was pissed. In a tell-all memoir, L.A. Reid stated, “It turned out that her mother went crazy on her. How dare you leave your sisters? They are your sisters. You’ve been singing together your whole lives!” Her mother never forgave her, and it caused a lot of family problems.
12. Facebook Likes and Twitters Followers Are Bought
How many times have you become interested in an artist because it seemed as if they were an overnight success? A lot of that success may have to do with Facebook likes and Twitter followers. Many people will start becoming interested in an artist based off of their following rather than looking into an artist that has 40 likes. Facebook likes, and Twitter followers would be very easy to buy, and I wouldn’t put it past the music executives to pay to make sure that their artists have a lot of followers before they even get air time. There are plenty of companies out there that work with you to increase your numbers so that you can grow in popularity. Social media is huge these days, and without it, it can be hard to break out as a star. If that’s not bad enough, you can even get your YouTube comments to be purchased as well.
11. Stars Have to be Willing to Change
Many stars are expected to change who they are when they enter the music world. It’s not surprising when you think of big stars like Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera. Both came on the scene with a certain level of innocence, and it wasn’t long before they were wearing next to nothing and making provocative music videos. Allegedly, L.A. Reid pissed Pink off when she was about to launch her album Missundaztood. We all know Pink to be one of the edgiest artists, while Reid wanted her to clean things up a bit. They had big problems because she refused to play by the rules and when she attended parties she was less than the polished girl he wanted her to be. He badly wanted her to be a pop star and even suggested she go to etiquette school. She took her revenge on the producer in one of her songs, stating, “LA told me, “You’ll be a pop star, all you have to change is everything you are. Tired of being compared to damn Britney Spears. She’s so pretty; that just ain’t me.”
10. Producers Cover Up Their Artists’ Dirty Little Secrets
We all know that celebrities in any industry can easily get away with murder because of who they are and how much money they make. We see it every day because they have enough money to get the best lawyers available to them. Often, they will serve a lesser charge or even get off completely because of who they are in the world. It’s not fair, but we’ve all accepted the fact that celebrities to some degree are untouchable. Reid dealt with similar drama when he was representing TLC’s Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes. She was filled with drama, and there was more than one occasion where he had to bail her out of trouble. On one such occasion, Lopes decided to set her boyfriend’s house on fire. She was never charged for the crime; in fact, Reid rushed her off to rehab after talking with the chief of police in Atlanta.
9. Stars Get Dropped Despite Their Talent
You would think that it would be impossible for a popular star to get dropped from a record label. After all, a popular star must bring in a boatload of money and executives love that. But that’s not the case at all; producers are looking for big money, and they are all for promoting a big name but if a star throws out an album that plummets then all bets are off. That’s what happened with Mariah Carey when she released her Glitter album, based off of the movie that completely flopped at the box office. When it released it sold less than 500,000 copies which you would think is a big number but not in the music industry. Virgin Records dumped her, and it’s rumored that was why she had her nervous breakdown. She wouldn’t be the first star that got dropped by a label, but thankfully there are many labels out there willing to pick up a star. Mike Smith of Virgin EMI stated, “The important thing to remember is if you’ve been able to get a record deal once you get can get one again.”
8. Producers Buy the Albums
When an album is released, it’s important that it hits the top of the charts immediately or it can really affect the artist’s career. An overnight success can go away in the blink of an eye, after all, that’s where all the one hit wonders go. If they are buying Facebook likes and Twitters followers, it’s not a big stretch to think that they will go out and buy up thousands of copies of their artist’s albums in order to assure that they become chart toppers. Once they are at the top, the rest seems to fall into place. They buy up albums within the first couple of weeks so that their artists have a better chance of rising to fame quickly. It’s something that came into play when people began downloading illegal tracks; the producers felt like they had no other choice but to play dirty.
7. Publicists Lie About Their Clients
We hear these stories all the time that something bad happens to a celebrity, pictures are splashed around, and the star themselves look horrified. Then a week later we are all scratching our heads as the said star is more famous than ever. Rumors swirl all around all the time that celebrities think up scandals in order to get themselves some free publicity. The stars are rarely involved, in fact; they usually have no idea that their own publicists are the ones behind these crazy stories. Whether it be cheating scandals, robberies went wrong, or behind the scenes scandals on movie sets, publicists set their clients up all the time if they believe it will help their clients become more famous. That’s where you get rumors like Tom Cruise’s marriage to Katie Holmes being arranged, or Jay-Z and Rihanna’s affair and so on. Her ex-producer confessed he was behind those rumors. “I was desperate at the time because I wanted to have a hit record. We were young and stupid.”
6. Talent Isn’t Important
How many times have you listened to a terrible song on the radio and wondered to yourself how that particular star ever made it to the top? Between producers buying Facebook likes and album downloads, it’s no surprise that they are making it to the top. However, that’s not the only problem. Are these stars an overnight success or is it because the publicist has one hell of a marketing department? The marketing department decides on who the star is going to be and creates that world for them, without their say in the matter. You don’t even have to have any talent if you have a great marketing team.
5. Sometimes Producers Make Mistakes
Producers and executives are always looking for the next big thing, the star that’s going to take their label to the next level. They love breakout stars and overnight successes because it means loads of money with less work. However, sometimes they get it wrong and mess up on their choices. L.A. Reid admitted that he made a mistake when it came to signing Lady Gaga, he had the opportunity to sign her but passed on it because he didn’t believe that she would go big. She ended up going to another record label and becoming the huge success that she is today. Producers don’t always get it right, in this case, Reid really blew it. Reid always called that little mishap, “the biggest mistake of his career.” He was overworked and didn’t believe in the star. “I was spread thin at the time and perhaps looking too hard for instant success rather than putting in the work,” Reid explained.
4. Producers Aren’t All Bad
We usually look at producers and music executives as snakes waiting to take down innocent artists or turn them into sex-obsessed teenagers. After all, these are the people that will do just about anything to get their artists to the top, no matter the cost to their personal lives. They create lives and personas that the artists have to carry out in order to rise to the top, sometimes at the risk of their own sense of self-worth. But despite their terrible reputation, some of them actually try to do the right thing. After Rihanna was released from the hospital after the beating that Chris Brown gave her in 2009, Reid actually came to her defense. She needed a place to stay where the media and possibly Brown couldn’t get to her. Reid offered up his place in order for Rihanna to feel safe. “I ordered Chinese food, and we listened to music. It wasn’t until then that I saw just how close we’d become.”
3. Tour Buses Are Regularly Searched for Drugs
This was one fact that I found surprising, I would have thought that it would be another case of the star being untouchable. However, it turns out that tour buses are regularly hit when it comes to looking for drugs. If police know that a big star is traveling through their city, they take it as an opportunity to make a big score. Both Nelly and Justin Bieber were hit with searches while on their tour bus and in both cases police found small amounts of drugs in their possession. In both cases, charges were not filed, but it was enough to cause some stir in the media. Unless it’s a big break for the cops, it’s pointless to bust on small amounts of narcotics because they can’t really prove who was using the drugs at the time. The musicians in both these cases got lucky because it could have been much worse.
2. Some Artists Can Get Fame Without the Producers
Justin Bieber is a great example of someone that made it big before signing on to a record label. His mother threw a YouTube video online, and it went viral; the rest is history. Record labels would love for people to believe that they need them in order to make it big. Sam Tsui is a 26-year-old singer that is now worth over $145 million and he did it all on his own. He was another internet sensation that threw up some videos of himself covering artists such as Britney Spears and Taylor Swift. His videos went viral, and it wasn’t long before he had over 2 million subscribers, these subscribers alone bring in $1 million a year. Instead of blowing his money on a fancy car or a new house he decided to invest it in properties, stock investments and even some endorsements such as CoverGirl cosmetics. He is now worth millions, and it had nothing to do with a record label.
1. Producers Spent Stars’ Money Without Their Permission
You may believe that most record labels foot the bill when it comes to promoting and marketing their stars but that’s not always the case. In fact, some stars especially when they are breaking out have to foot the bill for their own marketing. The problem is they don’t have a say in how their money is being spent. In 2009, Little Boots grew popular when she debuted her album, Hands. Sales of her first album did very well, and money started pouring in for the singer. Although she was making a lot of money and her song was high on the charts, she didn’t see a lot of the money that she was making. In an interview with Vice magazine, she tried to explain the lack of control she had with her finances, “For my first record I was in the red because they spent so much on marketing and that was out of my control. So it’s not like you’re a business partner really, it’s more like someone’s running your business for you, and they are doing it badly.”