Donna Missal, who recently put out the best work of her career – an excellent EP produced by Sega Bodega – was dropped by Harvest/UMG shortly after the EP’s release. Subsequently, she posted to twitter a good encapsulation of how preexisting economic privilege is often the most potent ingredient for music industry success:
Nepotism and oligarchy are real, it’s mythological that there’s no barrier of entry anymore because of social media. Class has an unavoidable impact on your options.
– Donna Missal on twitter
Those of us who have worked in this industry for any significant amount of time will easily be able to echo this sentiment. The sheer number of artists, producers, and indie label executives whose fathers or mothers are poisonously rich wall street financiers and pharma execs is staggering. Josh Eustis from Telefon Tel Aviv recently tweeted something along these lines:
You would be truly astonished to know how many “weirdo” artists – who are both our peers and many who are super famous – literally have dads that own gem mines in Indonesia
– Telefon Tel Aviv on twitter
Does any of this mean rich kids shouldn’t get attention for their music? Of course it doesn’t. But we shouldn’t pretend that artists or labels make it purely on the merit of their talent or how much they “hustle”. This kind of thinking is just another version of the bootstraps fallacy. The system is rigged in favor of the rich, so if you find yourself wondering how that producer manages to pay for his million dollar studio in Williamsburg, despite only having been involved in a small handful of notable projects, remind yourself of the dark money that permeates the arts.
Does this mean that an artist like Missal is without privilege? Of course it doesn’t, and I imagine she would readily admit that. But she’s right when she points out that it’s far more emotionally exhausting for some artists than others to continue to “posture like everything’s cool” in the midst of the “optics olympics” of an industry driven by never-ending social media frenzy and armies of oligarch-funded publicity teams.
Donna Missal – “(to me) your face is love” (sc)
Donna Missal – “sex is good (but have you tried)” (sc)