Is Billie Eilish, a Californian pop-artist, an industry plant? This question hit up the social media as soon as Billie came closer to the release of her first debut album, WHEN DO WE FALL ASLEEP, WHERE DO WE GO? Suddenly, everyone wants to know if Eilish is an inauthentic label-controlled puppet with a fake origin story. I see this conversation getting a lot of attention than it should have normally gotten.
If we go back to the earliest age of her career, we can see she has multiple songs that are either written by or co-written by her brother, Finneas. She has family members that are actors and connected to the industry. Even before she didn’t have much music coming out, she was signed to Interscope Records.
Currently, Billie is inundated with all these press, interviews and media exposure. We know that somebody so early in their career doesn’t typically get everything Eilish has gotten in such a short span of time. However, I am not totally sure why but there is a kind of an unhealthy expectation amongst music-listening audiences that the artists that they listen to must be authentic and relatable along with captivating origin story.
Why is the origin of an artist important to music listeners?
It is probably due to the decades of marketing that people usually love artists with rags to riches stories as a progression as they succeed in the music industry. Then, one day, out of nowhere, they grow a passion for music, they come up with a song, and it goes number one all around the world. For whatever reason, this expectation is inordinately applied to the music industry.
Yes, there are artists that I cover on my blog that I love and they come from a working class background. They have worked hard for their way into a music career. But honestly, most people in that position, in the grander scheme of things, they are still relatively obscure. It’s more rules than exceptions in my experience that when I research the background of the artists, they have some kinds of connection to the music industry.
Is forcing a career with power good?
The term “forcing” is debatable. Having quite a bit of money is not exactly the same thing as being directly industry connected. But when you consider how much time, effort and outside help are required to make a career, having a dedication to actually continue without having to worry about seemingly normal household requirements is more important.
The likelihood that someone from a lower or a lower-middle-class lifestyle is going to have the means to learn music on their own, buy instruments, buy a computer, buy editing software, and pay for time in the studio without outside help is very low. There are a lot of musicians in the industry with proximity to the industry or with quite a bit of money before they get into the industry.
How much does support mean in the music industry?
Honestly, I don’t think it means a lot in terms of the long term popularity of an artist. This is because even if you do make it to the top, it’s still a sink or swim situations. There are a lot of artists on Soundcloud, Spotify, and YouTube whose background isn’t unlikely to Billie’s. Most of them don’t have a tune that outstands, some don’t have looks and in general, their music is just a dud.
So, being an industry plant and coming into the music game with quite a bit of connection doesn’t necessarily guarantee you a career. People must like your music so as for you to have a career. Thus, being placed into the limelight by the industry doesn’t necessarily take you away from your artistic abilities. Nor does it prevent you from being relatable.
Do you think Billie Eilish is relatable despite being an industry plant?
If you ask me whether or not Eilish is relatable, in a broader sense, I’d have to go with a yes. I think she is relatable She is navigating her fame considering the influence she has gained with her age. The term “industry plant” is a recent term for something that has been an industry standard for a very long time.
This is because the record labels have been scouting talent, pairing musician with songwriters, and bringing session musicians to play instruments for the new song since decades. It’s not in label’s best interest to foster all of these. However, it is great for labels to sign and help someone new that blows up out of nowhere with a ton of organic followings.
What do you think about the involvement of the label?
Here is a thing, if you have a following that you can redirect anywhere, the label is entering the conversation with a contract from a position of weakness. The label is most likely going to make more money off of you thinking if they can hand you a dinky contract before you’re famous. They can essentially control your ascent up on the ladder of popularity. Basically, they’ll own you right from the start.
Is Billie Eilish an industry plant considering its vague standard?
The short answer to this question is pretty much yes. But considering the same standards, we can easily lump The Beatles into the same category because they as well were groomed heavily on their way up the ladder by the music industry. Some of the most popular and beloved music out there is really more top-down than it is ground-up.
Honestly, at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter to me if Billie Eilish is an industry plant. But the thing that truly matters is whether or not her new record is good. It somehow depends on the incentives of the fans as well. There are hardcore Billie Eilish fans who would love to hear her burp into the microphone for more than an hour.
Ultimately, Billie’s music is what defines her. While the magazine covers, media appearances, and heavy promotions sound good, there will always be people who can replace her and get her credibility. The only thing that matters is whether or not Billie’s music withstands the test of time.
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