Economics and similar, for the sleep-deprived

A subtle change has been made to the comments links, so they no longer pop up. Does this in any way help with the problem about comments not appearing on permalinked posts, readers?

Update: seemingly not

Update: Oh yeah!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Friday Music Link, here on a Monday

The interesting thing to me about this fiasco is not so much the sight of Charlie Brooker desperately trying to get the broomsticks to stop marching, but the actual video itself. In particular, the gentleman who pokes his head in at about the half way and starts rapping.

This guy is clearly not a schoolfriend or musical acquaintance of Rebecca Black. He's someone who has been hired to appear in the video along with the rest of the audiovisual production team, on the basis of a presumed wage paid - he is quite literally a journeyman rapper[1]. The music industry fascinates me; have a look at that bloke driving a car along talking in verse about his pretend friend the thirteen-year-old and consider that somebody booked him. Somebody in all probability confirmed his availability on the day. He then sent an invoice which somebody had to process, pay and then file. Somebody does his tax return.

When you consider that the whole number apparently cost Ms Black's parents no more than $2000 plus sales tax, which has to pay for the opportunity cost of the recording studio, the person who wrote the backing track, the recording engineer, cameras and video edit suites plus someone to run them, and obviously a fairly substantial profit, it really suggests that there's been a revolution in these things. About ten years ago I managed to rent my car out to a video production company (to represent the car of a character who was portrayed as a halfwit; I was not too offended) and got £500 a day for it - this absurd sum was regarded as reasonable back in the days when video production was such an amazingly expensive business that anyone doing it was literally awash with money. Productivity miracles, how are ya, and I suspect that compared to the video production industry, print journalists don't know they're born.

In general though, it's an occasional theme of this blog that the media industry is an industry (something regularly forgotten by government departments of trade and of education, who really seem to think that only science graduates make products that can be exported) and this is a good example. Next time you're watching a music video, remember that this is a manufactured object. The people bouncing up and down are not having a party; they are hourly-paid workers employed to simulate having a party. The beer cans they are rhythmically waving have been sourced, procured and brought to the production facility and it will be someone's job to clear them up once the shoot is over. The open-topped sports car has been hired by the hour in order to drive back and forth in front of a camera, as the man at the wheel pretends to sing. All of this stuff produces an item that thousands of consumers are prepared to pay hard cash for, and although it frankly seems a little ridiculous, future generations may find it harder to understand that we used to dig coal.

Envoi, and footnote [1]: I find myself wanting to write a country and western ballad about this uniquely American character, wandering from town to town with dust on his sneakers, living off his wits and rapping for his room and board. Someone with a little more talent and empathy, like Johnny Cash perhaps, could really have moved you to your soul with his evocation of the life of Pato Wilson, scraping his way through a hard MidWestern life, extemporising couplets about someone's mother and asking what's up for ten bucks, room and board. Until one day, he could rap no more, but his ghost still haunts the road, moaning "One time, yo", to the stars and telegraph wires ... (actually, of course he turns out to be the local studio owner who ran the show, but go with me here).

Update: thanks very much Alex, comments now fixed I hope.
22 comments this item posted by the management 3/28/2011 09:19:00 AM

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