Major Labels

Will Lady Gaga End The Music Business? (Again…)

This post is by Robin Davey of The Hoax and The Bastard Fairies.  Interview.

Lady-GaGa-The-Fame-Monster-FanMade4 Lady Gaga isn't holding back, her new record is coming out and she wants everyone to know. With the fastest selling number one in iTunes history, and her new video amping up hits on Vevo, it seems an unstoppable force.


Well to me it stinks of everything that was bad about the old industry and continues that predisposed self-destructive bent. You remember the one that imploded when CD's didn't sell anymore. It's akin to an alcoholic insisting they don't have a problem.

If Gaga doesn't sell or live up to the hype, then the party is gonna crash again, big time.


The majors were used to the big lifestyle, the private jets, lavish luncheons, and bottomless expense accounts. Radio was bought. Tours were bought. TV was bought.

Once you have tasted that, it's hard to give it up. Lady Gaga seems like a relapse. That one final "epic bender" as Charlie Sheen would describe it. The one that ends in either death, or realization that it's time for a final stint in rehab and to clean up your act one last time.

It is the majors chance to ignore those chest pains and shortness of breath and brush it off as indigestion. Let's forget about the 44,000 sales, which made an independently released album by Cake number #1 and outsell everything else a major had to offer.

Let's forget Mumford and Sons, that throwback acoustic act from the UK on an independent, are pretty much matching the sales of Katy Perry.

Just give us one more line of Gaga to keep us up partying all night.


Gaga is the worse companion for bingeing executives. She embraces the 24/7 facade that the old industry relied upon. She's a star and she will do anything to remain a star. She wants to go to the Grammys in an egg, then let her. She wants to start her new video with an epic 80's style movie segment about her giving birth to a new race of people. Hell yeah give her the money.

Whereas tough times and foreign wars in past history gave birth to protest singers – bringing the voice of the people to the airwaves, the current economic climate and fall out of the Bush years gave birth to the aptly titled Fame Monster.

People didn't want to face reality, and so Gaga's glitz and glamour has been embraced, a chance to forget that reality and live the fantasy. Not just for the fans but for the industry too.


We are moving into interesting new times. True uprisings in Egypt and Libya, that were unthought of in the last decade, are now taking hold. It's evolution revolution. The will of the people can effect regime change and that is inspiring. It has even been echoed in the USA.

Where does Gaga's mantra fit with this? Well this is to me where the big problem is, it doesn't. While her fight for equality is to be commended, it does almost feel like a self-serving publicity stunt. Her main sell is that we can all be just like her, glamorous and famous in our own little monster way. The truth is that we can't, life isn't like that. We can't all be privileged kids that attend the same school as Paris Hilton. We can't luck out and be in that miniscule percentage, where everything falls into place resulting in hits, notoriety and sold out tours.

In the music industry, the people have already made their voice heard. They are finding new ways of listening to music and it doesn't always involve paying for it.


Gaga again has to be commended in her commitment to her fans, but the thing sustaining her fame is not her core fans, but the interest of those outside of the little monster circle. Trouble is she is danger of alienating with the majority, and in order to sustain her bombastic marketing approach she has to do exactly that.

Shock value gets you noticed, but it also puts a lot of people off.

Remember this is being run by the major mentality, which is to reap the most dividends out of something in a short amount of time. They were never interested in long-term goals and this is why they are suffering now. I can't help feeling they lucked out with Gaga. She was in the right place at the right time. And whereas there is always something anomalous to an artist's success, Gaga's window to achieve what she did, in the time that she did, seems far less to do with content than it is to do with circumstance.


In reality, it all comes down to the strength of the music. When the intro to Gaga's new video finally reaches the song, you know that part you actually listen too, does it not seem like a huge let down? The Madonna comparisons are obvious and somewhat irrelevant if people like it, but will their attention last.

When Oasis released their third album, Be Here Now in 1997 amidst outlandish media hype, it too became a fastest selling release in history. But the music didn't stand up and the album is regarded as a coked up, attention seeking, rock and roll binge, and one of their worst. The band never really recovered from the overblown marketing that, because it wasn't kept in check, became far bigger than what the record could offer.


Gaga's drug of choice seems to be fame, and the launch of her newest release seems to fuel the hunger for her addiction. Those working the record are happy to ply on the supplies; she's the life of the party after all. But what can a team so embroiled in the falsity of fame really offer normal people.

Hope soon vanishes when reality bashes you over the head for the umpteenth time. People soon become resentful of success when their own lives don't echo the timeshare they are being promised.

Those who have cleaned up and moved on and continue to work hard to build musical careers in the real world should be happy to know, that while it may be a struggle to keep forging forward, at least we are not going to wake up with the world's worst hangover.

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  1. Yeah she’s not that great for the destruction of the old ways, but she is what she is, and it is what it is, and yet I still think universal can’t be satisfied with just the revenue she brings in, obviously. She might just be the biggest commercialized puppet like act in the past decade, and it saddens me the industry can still pull this off at this point in time.

  2. Do you know for sure that the label pays for everything you’re saying it does? I’m pretty sure with Gaga, that’s not the case. She’s gone on record before saying she pays for tour production out of her own pocket…

  3. @Michelle – Many many artists pay for tour production and lots of other things out of their own pocket. Especially if they want something better than the 15k the record label is willing to put out for their music video. So she’s not unique in that aspect.

  4. I sometimes agree with you, other times not but today I’m a bit confused today about your post.
    Are you saying GaGA should NOT be using all the marketing muscle she has to promote her record? You are also assuming she does not have the quality material to back so much hype, keep in mind that this argument was used every time Madonna had a record and she had a decent run. Come to think of it so has Britney, they are outlasting and outselling most “important” bands.
    How long can Mumford and sons continue? If they had a run like Britney would they not be considered a huge success?
    I would hate to be the one to determine what music is good and what is bad, that kind of gatekeeper hubris is more dangerous than the hype machines of the majors. I would direct you to this:
    as far as reality vs the hype creating a disconnect with the people or as you put it the Falsity of fame, I agree on an elemental level that our fascination with fame is an opiate but artists can bring a fantasy aspect to life or some form of escape from time to time. I do not see this as a bad thing. Artist also have an opportunity to communicate at a profound level too. To each their own, I can’t mandate it only choose it. I side with the latter but understand that escapist entertainment fueled by hype is the new business model of the majors, who are not going away only changing business models from music distribution to pop product promotion marketing machines.

  5. Hey Jean thanks for your comment.
    I do feel the post is pretty self explanatory and answers most of your comments but to clarify.
    When an artist is in the limelight like Gaga, it is all too easy to think they are indestructible. That whatever they do is going to be bigger and better than before.
    It seems Gaga is attempting to fully exploit her current perceived position. My point was that, so much of her overwhelming success is about luck and timing. Her music has never really been under scrutiny, the sparkly outside took precedence over the core.
    Even in more stable industry times overexposure runs the risk of imploding, as with the Oasis example I used.
    Times are changing and what made Gaga connect before cannot be relied upon again. I think bashing people over the head with the Gaga machine seems out of touch with the current climate, and encapsulates the major labels desperate measures of recent years.

  6. Gaga is as Gaga does. Hey, I love the Bastard Fairies! But…I was in Haiti, left five days before the earthquake, and when I came back, did my share of fundraising for earthquake relief. I also live in Arizona where I was a volunteer coordinator to defeat an anti-gay marriage amendment that would have been far-reaching and would have attacked health care benefits for all kinds of domestic partners. And, I’ve been active in the struggle for immigrant rights and border militarization. I don’t think I could recognize even one Lady Gaga song. I’m not a fan, and her music isn’t part of my world. But…I do know she helped raise a whole lot of money for earthquake relief in Haiti; she is an outspoken advocate of gay rights; she came to Arizona and spoke out solidly against SB1070 and anti-immigrant legislation. I don’t get why anyone would want to be so famous, but, you know…she hasn’t been totally irresponsible with her stardom.

  7. James again. I made a mistake above, said “I’ve been active in the struggle for immigrant rights and border militarization.” Of cours, I meant “I’ve been active in the struugle for immigrant rights and AGAINST border militarizaion.”

  8. Maybe we should start thinking of major label artists like we think of pro sports athletes. They make all of their money on the front end and have to live off of the interest and other smaller income streams for the rest of their lives.

  9. Art is Art. Promotion of that art should be what’s on the table here, or anywhere for that matter. If Lady Gaga wants to use the mantra “any publicity is good publicity” then so be it. I think that IS her style: Fame Monster. I may not like it because she makes WAY more money and is more famous, but that’s MY problem to deal with. The business is changing, but not before LG has her way with it first!
    Andre From Idlewood
    Please “LIKE” my page and support indie/local music!

  10. She’s definitely a major label product:
    Lady Gaga’s Lessons for the Music Business – “From concerts, including four sold-out nights at Radio City Music Hall this month, a percentage of her take goes to her label, Universal’s Interscope Records. The label also gets a cut of her revenue from Polaroid, Este Lauder’s MAC and other corporate partners. Does Gaga validate the 360 model for other artists? While she pockets relatively less money on tour, Interscope puts more muscle behind her than it would have in the old days. ‘Would she be in the position to play in front of 20,000 people a night if the record company had not put up the marketing dollars?’ says Gaga’s manager Troy Carter.”

  11. This article belongs on fox news. You’re getting old and intolerant. There’s room for everybody. Every generation thinks the newer generation’ sucks and will destroy us all. Nothing wrong with getting older, that’s ok, too.

  12. Hey James
    I was talking more about the business surround her, than Lady Gaga herself. Views on her music are obviously subjective and I tried to stay away from putting too much emphasis on that.

  13. She’s a smart business woman. She sells herself whenever she can. There are comparisons between her and Madonna, but unlike Madonna she’s trying to out do herself too quickly. Madonna’s music and albums had a lot of range. Artists like her (I think Bowie) change it up for better or worse so that they don’t get too predictable and scare off their fan base. Gaga is SO huge that I’m sure her label is pushing for bigger and better because they’re panicking due to the changing music business. They are not building careers that will last years anymore, they are in it for the quick payoff.
    FYI, I had always kind of thought this, but I ran into Gaga at my local grocery store this past summer and she looked like garbage! NOT attractive facially in real life and she really did look like a fame monster… Extremely coked out and dirty looking. Seriously, no joke, she looked like she was suffering AIDS! :0
    Free album download at

  14. I know for a fact that this is all simply untrue. The label does not get a cut of corporate deals (other than beats), She’s a live nation act, they get the tour dollars, not Interscope. She is very active in her career and not a puppet. You dont have to like her or her approach, but dont make stuff up.

  15. I know for a fact that this is all simply untrue. The label does not get a cut of corporate deals (other than beats), She’s a live nation act, they get the tour dollars, not Interscope.
    So you are disputing the Wall Street Journal article I quoted? They talked to her manager.

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