Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Rant: The Disney Effect

One particular trend in the music industry that I have viewed quite extensively over the past few months is the tremendous effect created by the Walt Disney Corporation. In a brilliant three-arm marketing scheme comprised of the Disney Channel, Radio Disney and teen pop “artists”, a self-contained wheel continues to turn seemingly without an end in sight. Disney finds an up and coming young teen actor, usually that can sing (or rather “perform”) to some extent. This young actor, if they are lucky, ends up in a Disney Channel related sitcom or television movie. If this show or movie has an amount of success, the actor can be marketed as a musical act, both on the Radio Disney end, and on terrestrial pop radio.

The result is the marketing of saccharin-sweet non-offensive pop music, occasionally with some kind of “edge”, be it r&b/urban (Cobin Bleu), rock (Jonas Brothers) or country (Miley Cyrus). The downside is, because several acts on the Disney roster glaringly stand out in the musical landscape as “Disney”-esque, only a select few gain pop radio coverage (which is starting to change a little bit with the overwhelming success of Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus and her recent tour support group, the Jonas Brothers). Despite that fact, in a seemingly profound strangeness, this artist will sell a respectable amount of records, even without their songs on pop radio. Examples of this include “High School Musical” (which spawned Vanessa Hudgens, Ashley Tisdale and Corbin Bleu – all of which have pop music deals) and “Hannah Montana” (which spawned both Hannah Montana and Miley Cyrus).

So how did this happen? The music business and our culture in itself is becoming increasingly reliant on technology. Children and teenagers (and those in between – “tweens”) have often been both alternately marketed toward intensely or not at all, depending on the type of artist. These type of “Disney” acts obviously appeal toward children and tweens who watch the Disney Channel extensively. This channel does not provide typical commercial advertising during its breaks in shows, but rather advertising for its other shows, movies or even full music videos of the artists it supports. In this way, it has become a marketing machine for those who are lucky enough to be in the Disney club. Kids and teens today alike are more akin and knowledgeable to technology than any other generation. Also, with the rise of iTunes and other digital means of acquiring music, money has little value when its exchange has never been seen by the purchaser. By creating an image-heavy persona of these teen acts, its fans feel like not only can they relate to the music and the artist itself, they are more inclined to buy accessory merchandise (ie. wigs, backpacks, makeup, nail polish, keychains, teddy bears – anything with the artists name and face on it).

What about you? What do you think of the "Disney-fied" artists?

1 comment:

Nikki said...

Hey! Stumbled upon your blog somehow, and I'm loving the posts!

On the subject of the Disney issue, they're not doing anything new or revolutionary, and this isn't the first time something like this has been done successfully and repeatedly.

You see, pop is a formula. It's a basic formula altered every so often to move with the times, but in the end, it has the same effect every time. Remember the boyband craze of the 90's? That was the exact same formula as the Disney one of today, shove the bands into the public's faces, give them their own TV show(remember S Club?) and make them record cheesy but ultra-catchy pop songs.

Isn't that what Disney's doing right now?

These things are replaceable, and these artists will come and go. In the UK, Take That was replaced by Boyzone who in turn was replaced by Westlife and is now in the process of being replaced(possibly..) by JLS. All these successful pop acts follow the formula to the very end, and it works, for a while.

It's all pretty much about shoving the said act/singer/band in people's faces, giving them formulaic songs and labeling them correctly.

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