What is this “Youth Culture” we keep talking about, and what is the role of a label like Jive in shaping this? Most importantly, what affect will any of this have on David’s artistry?
Youth Culture is a complete fabrication, which the music industry has been quite adept at shaping — from Elvis’s reign in the 1950s to the Beatles’ domination in the ’60s to the current dictatorship of hip-hop culture.
And young people have always been willful in what they define as their culture, which means Moms and Dads are certainly not allowed to join in. Recently, this has also meant not liking what commercial culture defines as “cool,” hence the immediate dismissal of an artist coming off of the power machine of American Idol, or coming from Disney.
In short, YouTube, Myspace, and offline underground artists rule because of the belief that they are not part of The Machine. These artists also rule because the cool crew — the teens and young adult demographic who know better than to be spoonfed a commercial star, in ways that their naive counterparts, the tweens, or their out-of-touch elders do not — get to decide what they think is cool and not what TPTB think is cool.
And marketers are clear about this, which is why they make very important decisions to market their artists in order to seem as if they’re not involved in marketing artists at all (for the apparent “lack” of marketing David to certain markets seems to be part of the master plan).
Amid these “Culture Wars,” David makes his appearance. And what initially started out as a lovefest — especially after his celebrated “Imagine” performance — soon descended into a Love Him or Hate Him competition (which, to me, both indicate David’s uniqueness and his undeniable artistry).
The Jive marketing strategy, and even the debates about which youth culture matters (the tween culture, for example, has become viable precisely because teens and young adults are too cynical to buy into commercial pop), now have a genuine challenge in David, who in short can be described as the Youth who sings like he’s “grown.”
It’s clear Jive has undertaken considerable time and effort to carefully plot out the space that David will presently occupy in commercial pop — a clear Disney platform with generic pop songs on Radio Disney. In a parallel effort, outside of this corporate American bubble, Jive has strategically flown him to Asia to greet and perform for his Asian fan base and then placed David on a U.K. tour with the most popular British boy band.
These efforts indicate that Jive, while seeming to not be strategizing for that crucial demographic (the teens and young adults who still have more legitimacy of being “cool”) is making plans for their discovery of David’s “real” music — like Zero Gravity for example — all the same. But outside the glare of commercial pop music, on the Internet or in a concert, where David’s artistry can still shine.
Yet, I cannot help but ask, had the journey started with Jive and not with American Idol, would David have been able to make the heart connection with us, his Arch Angels, in the ways that reality TV allowed him? Or, would other forces have disrupted the flow?
– Hello Gorgeous