Music Marketing

Lana Del Rey Leaves Early Adopters Behind

Lana-del-rey-born-to-dieI have to admit, I ignored the Lana Del Rey phenomenon for a variety of reasons including the fact that great musical artists rarely look like beautiful movie stars and most of the hardcore hype was on sites I don’t follow. But somehow the now controversial Saturday Night Live appearance broke through the walls and, upon closer examination, I realize that Del Rey is a fascinating example of America’s unrealistic expectations for authenticity from performing artists even when they should know better. She is also an example in the arts of what the tech world calls “crossing the chasm” from early adopters to mainstream adoration.

I’m going to have to take various writers’ word that Lana Del Rey got a lot of hype on the web from indie music blogs and websites who ultimately turned on her when she turned out to have a prior identity and was destined to be a pop star. Popjustice has a wonderful takedown of the attacks by previously worshipful music writers when they realized she wasn’t their indie princess any more. But somehow they leave out the fact that we are talking about what are essentially a bunch of boy bloggers of varying ages in love with someone for whom they hoped to someday buy a PBR after her SXSW showcase only to realize that she is untouchable. Sorry, son. She ain’t for the likes of you.

Lana Del Rey – Born To Die

In a cover story for Billboard, Steven J. Horowitz points to her “authenticity” as the big initial pull. And what boy blogger wouldn’t love an authentic singer who looks like a glamorous movie star?

But it turns out “Lana Del Rey” is a stage name for a performing artist who had an earlier identity using her government name. You know, the name all those hip hop artists reject as if it was a political move.

Guardian writer Paul Harris has the audacity to compare Lana Del Rey’s earlier incarnation as Lizzy Grant “trying to make it in the clubs and bars of New York” as an attempt to follow a path laid down by Bob Dylan and Lady Gaga which she gave up to become Lana Del Rey.

Given that reinventing oneself and taking on a new name was the actual path of Bob Dylan and Lady Gaga, Lizzy Grant is more similar to Robert Zimmerman and Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta.

That said, though many have turned on Lana Del Rey, she is also getting fresh support and increased visibility. The upcoming release of her debut album, “Born To Die,” will show us whether or not her supporters will win out. Given that it’s already #27 on Amazon’s music chart based on preorders suggests she’s well on her way to pop stardom. Since her actual first album was released as Lizzy Grant, this means she’s also breaking through the sophomore slump that has killed so many careers.

Del Rey’s progress towards pop stardom is remarkably similar to the progress of popular websites and services that are taken up by early adopters who obsess endlessly over every shifting detail. As the mainstream gets involved the early adopters move on, often blogging about their disappointment and sense of betrayal. This shift from early adopters to mainstream is called “Crossing the Chasm” from the book by Geoffrey Moore and is closely related to the technology adoption lifecycle.

It’s a treacherous journey, one in which “death by a thousand cuts” from the cutting edge can drain the life out of one before successfully being adopted by the mainstream. The ridiculous amount of coverage in mainstream media of the disappointment of so many boy bloggers, who wish they could be that guy in the Born To Die video (shown above) and now know it will never be, suggests Lana Del Rey has already crossed that chasm.

Hypebot Features Writer Clyde Smith maintains his freelance writing hub at Flux Research and music industry resources at Music Biz Blogs. To suggest topics for Hypebot, contact: clyde(at)fluxresearch(dot)com.

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  1. God! The bullshit written about her gets worst.Usually like reading articles on this site as well.It simply comes down to the more attention she gets the more traction she will get.It’s just a game of statistics.Perhaps she has left her early fans behind – who would have been dedicated to her.She’s left with the fickle fans now probably.

  2. Well here’s the deal. She didn’t really have “fans” to begin with. She was an emerging artist that had buzz. She only had 3 songs as Lena Del Rey, and they were pretty catchy and appealing. She got a lot of youtube hits, but that hardly constitutes real fans, they’re just people that liked the song.
    Her authenticity is important, not because it’s some sort of fantasy engine for pubescent fantasizes, but because music is an art. People who take that art seriously, like music journalists, want genuine talent behind that art, not a PR team.
    Arcade Fire just won the grammy for best album. The Black Keys are pumping out music for Warner Bros. Adele, Florence & The Machine, TV on the Radio, Foster the People, Tyler the Creator…ectectect, are all being embraced by mainstream artists and are still darlings of the music bloggosphere, for the most part. Hardcore music fans can get past whether or not an artist “sells out” or “goes mainstream”.
    The majority of the Lana Del Rey hate comes from her SNL performance, in which it was clearly revealed that she is not talented at all. She strains to hit her high notes. She leaves her register all together to hit her low notes. Her vibrato is awkwardly unnatural. Looking at her Jools Holland performance, it’s the same thing. It quickly became abundantly clear that all of this 3song superhype has been nothing more than a big cash in for Jimmy Iovine and that she was nothing more than an image all along.

  3. This article is totally silly. To suggest that all those leaving her behind are doing so because they found out she’s not authentic is ludicrous. Plenty of tastemakers and indie folks give pop music a fair shake. Many of those abandoning her are doing so because we finally heard her live and she fucking sucks.

  4. what a load of horse shit. that whole debate is done, its over, gaga reinvented, alanis reinvented, madonna reinvented… hello the smart ones always do, the authenticity question is banal and any intelligent blog would stay away entirely. this ground has been covered. the leak of born to die shows what an impressive artist she is with fiona Appleish songs like Million Dollar Man driven wild with Kanye beats, this is a sick sick effort. Imma give this girl 10 man.

  5. John, out of the first 5 comments yours is the only one worth responding to. The rest of you guys need to step it up though Pimpy C is at least being honest with himself and the world.
    I hear what you’re saying. Since I didn’t follow her development in the music blogs and related sites because the writing tends to drive me up the wall, I can’t speak to what actually happened. I’m just gathering the “journalists” response and building on that. And given the generally debased nature of journalism, it doesn’t surprise me if they’re off the mark.
    Honestly, I don’t read critics of any kind of art. Pretty much stopped in the 80s when I realized most of them didn’t know what they were talking about.
    That said, I found some statements that point to earlier shows at which people started to turn against her and certainly the many live shows she did in Europe that are available on YouTube should have clued people in. So, if they were obsessive and didn’t figure out till SNL what was up, then they weren’t very good at what they were doing.
    But I think the hormonal nature of male writing, not just clinicall pubescence but the extended pubescence into middle age that characterizes boys’ clubs, is certainly in full effect in the music press and pretending that’s not part of the equation just because they’re too cool to let is show is naive.
    Nevertheless, this is a well written and believable comment and I commend you on your thoughtful writing.
    I wish the rest of the upset folks best of luck on your healing journeys. Looks like you’re going to need a lot of it!

  6. 1. She has no talent
    2. The label did everything they could in their sneaky, diminishing power to kid us she was a) talented, b) authentic and c) cool.
    3. She is none of the above (a to c) and will now be discarded before long into the babylonian citadel of major label casualties. Since she already cost UMG an arm and a leg in advances, recording costs (and judging by the abysmal sound of her voice paired with the clear priority level she was given at the label, that could be quite substantial), top stylists, expensive photographers, big name make-up artists, A-level video directors & editing teams, west coast/east coast/london publicists, radio pluggers all over the world, etc some poor ‘clever’ bastard will lose his overpaid A&R job and play video games for the rest of his or her miserable, short-lived ex-music industry existence. Literally Video Games, non-stop fucking Kinect for the next 50 years, kicking himself forever as to why he ever bought into this inane idea that this talentless wannabe could ever be anything other than the fake, bulldog-that’s been stung by wasp barbie doll with a millionaire Daddy in real estate that she is.
    This whole thing makes me sick. Nevermind whether she’s authentic or not, we never even got that far, because she’s SHIT.
    As for Hypebot? You guys have been treading a very tenuous line between interesting pieces and very shoddy reporting for some time now. Time to pull your socks up and deliver a little more quality please.
    Anyone interested in the demise of the A&R profession at majors should check out this book
    comes highly recommended!
    Roberto Carlos

  7. Coming from Australia, this is the first I’d heard of Lizzy Grant/Lana whatever. While I think Born to Die is actually a good song [have you heard what is out there in commercial mainstream land – MY GOD, SHIT!!] … it is clearly not an indie song, and much more pop/mainstream leaning.
    But her SNL gig was a shocker.

  8. Seems like it’s popular now to dislike her. Ah well, I don’t care I still like her. Whether it’s her producer’s talent or her own, whatever–the songs are interesting. Plus, I like the idea of this new breed of “artist”. It’s an interesting experiment.

  9. “She is none of the above (a to c) and will now be discarded before long into the babylonian citadel of major label casualties.”
    Maybe after her next album flops since this one seems to have done okay!

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