On Marketing and the Commercialization of Metal

If you’re a sports fan, you’re probably familiar with sports stars being little more than walking billboards. They are often parties to extremely lucrative deals in exchange of parading around the world featuring the logos or products of whoever is willing to throw enough money at them. While we basically accept these situations as facts of life, I think many like to imagine that art in general, and music in particular, are (or at least should be) free of that sort of corporate influence. But they’re not.

While product placements in movies started a long time ago, in the case of music it first started in the world of hip hop and pop. Music videos by the likes of Avril Lavigne, Britney Spears, Lady Gaga, Nicki MinajKe$ha, 50 Cent, Drake, Lil’ Wayne and Pitbull are full of them. Sometimes they are done subtly, like a camera “casually” panning over a watch or a phone, and others shamelessly, like when a performer explicitly references the product by name. This continues outside of their music, of course, as they effectively become puppets of the brands they represent, parading around the world branding overpriced Beats by Dr. Dre headphones, or furiously removing lint from their pants, in order to secure more money.

Of course, you’re probably thinking that this is the kind of thing that is to be expected from rap, hip hop, and pop, due to their mainstream appeal. The problem, however, is that this situation is not limited to them and, as rock and heavy metal increase in popularity, more and more products seek the endorsement of heavier artists.

Take the case of Ozzy Osbourne, whose wife first sold out by making that cringe-inducing reality show of The Osbournes, and then humiliated even further by selling video gamesbutter and cellphones, and (together with Justin Bieber) endorsing an appliances’ store, all while making jokes about his dementia and slurred speech. Kiss is, of course, another clear example, with Gene Simmons‘ shameful reality show also working as a product-placement extravaganza.

So we’re clear on terminology “storyline integration” means: Gene and his moronic family will shoehorn dialogue about your shitty cologne/wine/deodorant/rape counselor/pet cleaning services (Ad Source)

It’s not hard to see that this also affecting concerts themselves, with many musicians sporting armbands and t-shirts containing unrelated product endorsements. It’s one thing to see a guitar player being sponsored by a guitar manufacturer, it’s another to see bands like Korn, Epica, Legion of the Damned, Five Finger Death Punch, and many others, being “very excited” about their partnerships with Jägermeister or Monster Energy Drinks, or Larch Ulrich “designing” the most fucking generic shoe in the world “in cooperation” with Vans (while saying the priceless phrase “in the last couple of years I’ve been getting into footwear that is basically laceless”).

The problem that this situation creates is that it blurs (or downright erases) the line between art and marketing, preying on the weakest among us. While you and I might be aware that John 5 is not really excited about Monster Energy Drinks, the 13 year old kid in the front row has no idea. For him Monster and Jägermeister stop being simply products, and actually become part of what heavy metal is supposed to be. He becomes brand-obsessed because that’s what he is being told to be; because that is what heavy metal is being portrayed as. And I don’t think that this is how it should be.

Heavy metal started as a rebellion against the status quo, against the vapidity of society, and seeing those hopes and desires go down the drain, as marketing interests start to infect it beyond redemption, is heartbreaking. While there is certainly a place for marketing interests to participate in the world of music, the way in which it is done, passing products as symbols of an identity (as opposed to just marketing ploys), is definitely not the way to go.

Art deserves better.

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whiskeyhammer 90
whiskeyhammer 90
5 years ago

“I mean nowadays rap, hip hop and, of course, pop, represent the lowest common denominator in terms of music; they are simplistic, repetitive, and intellectually offensive enough to appeal to the largest possible audience.” Considering the average basement-dwelling autists that listen to metal, this is a laughable charge to make against other forma of music. Metal is for developmentally-disabled manchildren. Grow up or GTFO. Weedly weedly assfaggotry for lonely neckbeards who have the attention span of a gnat. Yuck. You’re just a kid. You don’t know jack-shit about anything. Pretty soon you’ll grow out of this angry, morose teenager bullshit. The sooner the… Read more »

J_MetalBlast
Admin
5 years ago

I don’t know, whiskeyhammer90, I get you totally laid some sweet burns on me there.
I mean, talking about “assfaggotry” sure demonstrated your intellectual superiority.
Congratulations!

whiskeyhammer 90
whiskeyhammer 90
5 years ago
Reply to  J_MetalBlast

How does it feel to write for a rag that has less readers than garbage like MetalSucks? I’m sure Mom must be proud.

J_MetalBlast
Admin
5 years ago

¯_(?)_/¯
I don’t know man, last time I saw your mom she seemed happy.

whiskeyhammer 90
whiskeyhammer 90
5 years ago
Reply to  J_MetalBlast

Not a lot of time to spend on this one but metal is a lot like anime: fandoms of young people are infatuated with something low-quality, formulaic and in bad taste, all the while convinced that it’s the deepest, most meaningful shit ever and superior to any “mainstream” forms. Just as the intended audience of anime is Japanese 12 year olds, so too does metal appeal to the 12 year old in the driver’s seat of every metal-loving manchild’s cumbersome frame. Anime fans brag endlessly about how a lot of anime is “mature” in content, but the reality is that… Read more »

J_MetalBlast
Admin
5 years ago

I think you’ve made it very clear that you have very little time to spend on this (2 days and counting!) and that you care so little about it that you need to leave long diatribes explaining, in detail, why metal is terrible and you’re smart.
Keep up the good work! 🙂

Jon B.
5 years ago

“I’m going to illustrate to this retard how much I don’t care by writing paragraph after paragraph saying how much I don’t care and how irrelevant this whole concept is!” -local idiot on the internet

Vassago Gamori
Vassago Gamori
3 years ago

“The Dunning–Kruger effect is a cognitive bias in which low-ability individuals suffer from illusory superiority, mistakenly assessing their ability as much higher than it really is. Dunning and Kruger attributed this bias to a metacognitive incapacity, on the part of those with low ability, to recognize their ineptitude and evaluate their competence accurately. Their research also suggests corollaries: high-ability individuals may underestimate their relative competence and may erroneously assume that tasks which are easy for them are also easy for others.”

3leggedDog
3leggedDog
5 years ago

what’s autisitsis?